Ball Star

Could there be two Bonifacios playing for the Royals in 2014?

Updated: 2013-09-06T22:08:22Z

By PETE GRATHOFF

The Kansas City Star

Royals second baseman/center fielder Emilio Bonifacio is eligible for arbitration next season, but it seems likely he’ll be with the team in 2014.

Since coming from the Blue Jays, Bonifacio, 28, is batting .304 with 10 walks in 22 games. He has been a pleasant surprise, no?

Could his brother Jorge, who just finished playing with Class AA Northwest Arkansas, join him in Kansas City?

“We’ll be open-minded. It’s tough to say,” admitted J.J. Picollo, the Royals’ Assistant General Manager for Scouting and Player Development. “If you just wanted to be very conservative, you’d say 2015 at the earliest. But he’s in Double-A, I would suspect he would compete for a Triple-A spot next year.

“If guys are performing in Double-A and Triple-A, and the opportunity is there in the major leagues, it’s not out of the question that he would make his debut sometime next year. But conservatively we start plugging in his name in 2015 at some point during that year.”

Jorge Bonifacio, a 20-year-old outfielder, is the fifth-ranked Royals prospect according to MLB.com. Baseball America had him ranked fourth in their preseason rankings of Royals prospects.

After batting .296 with 11 doubles and 29 RBIs in 54 games at Class A-Advanced Wilmington this season, Bonifacio hit .301 with 19 RBIs in 25 games for the Naturals. At those two stops, he had 34 walks and 63 strikeouts.

“His quality at-bat appearance ratio is certainly indicative of him handling that league and not above his head,” Picollo said. “He has not struggled as much as some guys would when they go there.

“His swing, it plays. It stays in the zone a long time, his pitch recognition is good. ... He knows what his abilities are. He’s not trying to hit home runs, he doesn’t get too big with his swing, he tries to use all fields, he’s very consistent with it. He’s certainly put himself put himself in a position where we can start projecting him and talk about him on our major-league team some time in the near future.”

To reach Pete Grathoff, call 816-234-4330 or send email to pgrathoff@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/pgrathoff

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