At just 18-years-old Jorge Bonifacio is tearing up the Midwest league. Bonifacio wasn’t a highly touted draftee like Francisco Lindor, last week’s prospect, nor was he an international free agent bonus baby either. Due to this lower profile coming into the season there is a high probability that he is still available in your league. The young outfielder is an intriguing prospect who may be worthy of a roster spot in deep leagues, but his elite statistics to this point in the season are misleading.
Bonifacio’s value is going to be dependent on where he plays defensively. Unlike his brother Emilio, he isn’t a fantastic athlete, or at least, he doesn’t profile to be on the left side of the defensive spectrum. The Royals have Jorge patrolling right field, where he showcases an above average to plus arm but less than desirable range. Some posit as Bonifacio’s body matures he’ll be forced to first base; but his arm could prevent a move. In defense of that position, he ready has an awkward body and he turns 19 in less than two weeks. A large increase to his frame could be detrimental to his range. It’s more likely than not that he sticks in right or left field, but it’s something to monitor as you weigh his value to your team.
Batting Average: Bonifacio is a patient hitter. He’s selective and has strong pitch recognition skills for his age. What I love most about his swing is his ability to keep his hands back and employ his quick wrists to make contact with the ball deep in the hitting zone. There are many skills that can be taught to a hitter, but quick wrists are not one of them. This ability coupled with his discipline at the plate bodes well for his ability to hit for a high batting average. However, he has one correctable swing flaw that will ultimately determine his value.
Home Runs: Bonifacio’s hip turn almost destroys his [fantasy] prospect status (UPDATED: Sorry for the lack of clarity). He rotates his hips very early, killing his power and throwing him out of balance. The fact that he puts so many balls in play is a testament to his aforementioned skill set. If Jorge can slowdown his front side and get his hips in synchronization with his hands, he has the natural ability to develop average or above average power. He is just turning 19, so he has plenty of time to correct this, but failing to do so could undermine the rest of his game.
Batting Average (OF League Average: .270 BA): Average
Home Runs (OF League Average: 20 HR): Below Average
Stolen Bases: His brother Emilio Bonifacio might steal more than 60 bases this season, but Jorge won’t get close to double digits as he matures. Jorge is not slow, but it takes him several steps to get motoring so it’s unlikely a team allows him to be aggressive on the base paths. As previously discussed, there is a strong possibility he thickens up as he ages which would likely hurt his stolen base numbers.
Stolen Bases (OF League Average: 20 SB): Well Below Average
Runs Batted In and Runs Scored: Because of his game is still raw, it’s hard to see Bonifacio in a Royals uniform in the next three years. It’s also difficult to see where he would play because the Royals are saturated with talent at the corners. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are under team control through 2017; Alex Gordon is contracted to be with the team through 2015 and Wil Myers destroying AA (and now onto a new test, AAA). Likely, someone will be traded to obtain starting pitching this off-season and it easily could be Bonifacio. On top of that uncertainty, his distance from the major leagues and the Royals’ inability to write an effective lineup card make these two statistics difficult to evaluate.
Even so, Bonifacio’s plate discipline is strong and he should get on base a fair amount. He profiles best batting second because he has good on base ability and bat control but only moderate pop. Assuming he bats in the two hole in front of Hosmer, Myers and Moustakas:
Runs Batted In (OF League Average: 75 RBI): Below Average
Runs Scored (OF League Average 75 R): Average
There is a ton of hype surrounding Jorge Bonifacio‘s start at Kane County, but I urge you to temper your enthusiasm. Not only is it years before he may become a starter on a major league roster, but his game has two big question marks which could make him a non-factor in your fantasy league: his position and his power output. I’m optimistic about the former but the latter is disconcerting. If your league is deep, however, I would be willing to bet on him with a draft pick or a roster spot. Given his youth he has time to correct his hip turn and timing and develop average or above power. But, be cautious and don’t be afraid to deal him to someone who is buying his blistering start.
Prospect Video of the Week:
He’s some video Bullpen Banter’s Steve Fiorindo shot of potential top overall draft pick Mark Appel.
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