The recent major league debuts of Manuel Pina and Salvador Perez have inspired me to switch gears, at least temporarily, in my minor league coverage. Instead of examining players on a team by team level, this week we’re going to look at the position of catcher across all levels of the Royals system. This involves 26 players, and by now you know that I’m a bit verbose so I will be breaking this up into multiple parts.
This is Part 3 (for Part 1 click here) (for Part 2 click here) which will cover the catchers playing in Wilmington. I had intended to include Northwest Arkansas and Omaha at this point but I went a little long on one of the four Blue Rocks backstops to there will be a Part 4 coming soon.
Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League – A+)
Was Placed on 7-day DL today – August 26th – with a lower body injury. Heading into the 2010 season Bonilla was ranked as the Royals #21 prospect by Baseball America despite hitting 0.217/.281/.311 for the Burlington Bees in 2009. Aside from a single at bat with Omaha, he spent all of 2010 again in the Midwest League with the Bees and showed strong improvement the 2nd time around. He hit 0.239/.344/.338 while cutting down on his SO and increasing his BB. It wasn’t enough to get back into the rankings and the surge in the system’s overall strength and depth didn’t help matters.
Now 23-years old (as of August 4th), he’s hitting 0.210/.302/.292 but his SO to BB rate continues to improve. Back in ’09 he struck out 3.17 times for every walk. Last season he went down on strikes 1.84 times for every walk, but some of that jump can be brushed aside since he was A ball. This season however, he’s trimmed that number down to 1.77 and that is notable since he moved up a level and is playing in the pitcher friendly Carolina League.
Bonilla was considered a high-risk, high-reward prospect when he joined the organization out of the Dominican Republic in 2006. So far, the results, outside of an impressive 2008 season with the AZL Royals, have been underwhelming but he still has the tools to become a solid major league catcher. The bat is going to have to come around, but he’s definitely made strides with his pitch selection and that gives me some hope. Catchers, by the nature of their position, have an entirely different track and an entirely different set of expectations for their development. As the Reds Devin Mesoraco proved in 2010, if a catching prospect has legit tools he should never be written off. Keep his name in the back of your head because Jose Bonilla still has the tools to become a part of the Royals long term plans.
Last year he played for the Washington Wild Things in the Frontier League (Independent) and hit 0.226/.226/.264 with 20 SO and zero BB in 53 AB. The Royals signed him in March and started him off with Burlington in the Appalachian League where he hit 0.254/.319/.317 in 19 games before being bumped up to the Blue Rocks. The 25-year old Dyer made his Carolina League debut on August 20th and has collected 1 H and 1 BB in his first 7 PA. He’s played C in all 3 of his games for Wilmington but also played 1B, OF and DH in his stint with Burlington.
One of the newer farmhands for the Royals, Rodriguez came over with Antonio Cruz when Wilson Betemit was sent to Detroit. At the time of the trade he was hitting 0.283/.325/.354 for Lakeland (A+) in the Florida State League. The Royals wisely saw fit to keep him at the same level. Rodriguez now has 17 games on his resume with the Blue Rocks and in that time he’s hit 0.255/.276/.400. Prior to being dealt he was having his best season since the Tigers signed him out of the Dominican Republic back in 2006 and while he gets a bit of a pass since he’s had to adjust to a new league and new organization I was hoping he would build on what he did with Lakeland earlier in the year. He turned 22 earlier this month so he still has time, but 2012 will be a crucial year for him.
If it seems like I just covered Jones a few days ago, it’s because I did on the 22nd when he was still a member of the Kane County Cougars. On August 25th he was assigned to Wilmington so he gets a second mention in this series. To make things easier, I’m going to include the write up on him that appeared in my column earlier this week:
"The team’s 50th round selection in 2008, he’s hit 0.234/.302/.351 in 170 PA for Kane County and also 0.211/.200/.263 in a 6-game stint with Wilmington from June 11th-August 4th. Jones, 22, has been prone to streaks this year and needs to find some consistency at the plate. He went 3-35 during the month of April and is 1-11 since returning from the Blue Rocks. On the other side of the coin, he hit 0.320/.358/.500 (16-50) during the month of June and was 6-17 in July before he was bumped up to Wilmington. There’s some potential in the bat and I always pull for the late round picks to have success so I hope he can find that aforementioned consistency soon."
Statistically nothing has changed. The last game he appeared in for Kane County was on the 21st and he hasn’t appeared in a game for Wilmington since rejoining the team. His time with the Blue Rocks likely hinges on how quickly Bonilla can get off the DL and back on the field.