Kansas City Royals: The Promise of Jorge Bonifacio
By Eric Boston
For the Kansas City Royals the shift to a youth movement is coming quick. Several of the players who will have roles in the next wave are currently in the Minor League system. There is one player though who is quietly putting together a solid season with the big club.
Kansas City Royals rookie outfielder Jorge Bonifacio has shown promise in 2017. Last season Bonifacio ranked as the Royals #2 prospect per MLB.com. Jorge is the younger brother of former Royal Emilio Bonifacio. All of that has lead up to some high expectations in his first big league season.
With so much focus on the Kansas City Royals’ upcoming free agent group and their extremely up and down season, Jorge has probably not had the attention he should. He has flown a bit under the radar and put together a a good rookie campaign.
The 24 year old has put up a slash line of .252/.322/.434 with 15 HRs and 35 RBIs in 325 at bats.
While El Boni may top out in the .260-.270 BA range for the Kansas City Royals, the power potential should excite the team and their fans. His current pace projects to 27 HRs over a 162 game schedule.
At his age the power is still developing. Having a young player displaying 30+ homerun power is a definite plus for an organization staring down a rebuild.
Bonifacio may not posses the Gold Glove caliber defense that Kansas City Royals fans have grown accustomed to, he also has not been terrible. On the year Boni has a .982 fielding percentage and committed just three errors.
Playing in right field the biggest hurdle for the young OF may be that he doesn’t have the strongest of arms. A shift to LF should probably be in his future. With Lorenzo Cain a soon-to-be free agent that could create such a scenario.
Assuming Cain takes his talents elsewhere next season, Alex Gordon legitimately may be the club’s CF in 2018. If so then Bonifacio in LF and another Jorge (Soler) in RF is very probable.
Whether it is LF, RF or even DH in 2018, Boni should be an everyday presence in the Kansas City Royals’ lineup. He may never be a number three hitter, but looks to be a solid middle of the order (five-hole?) bat in his career.
Ned Yost experimented with Bonifacio in the two-hole for awhile earlier this season. While – if I squint my eyes and focus really hard – I may be able to see his reasoning, I never really understood having him there. But someone has to bat second and prior to trading for Melky Cabrera the options were not super exciting.
What is exciting however, is knowing that the Kansas City Royals appear to have one of the pieces of the long-term puzzle in place. Will Bonifacio be the next home-grown position player that leads the team to contention? No one really knows, but the future appears bright.
What I want to know is how our readers view El Boni. Give us your projections in the comments below. Will he be the next player to walk in the shoes of Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas? What other young players will join him next season?