The Royals’ minor-league system is no longer the talent-laden prospect factory that produced the foundation for two straight American League pennants and a World Series championship. Yet the pipeline is not dry, either.
Consider third baseman Hunter Dozier and outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, who will represent the Royals at the All-Star Futures Game on July 10 in San Diego. Dozier, 24, is a former first-round pick in the midst of his best minor-league season. Bonifacio, 23, continues to perform at the plate after earning All-Star honors in the Texas League in 2014 and 2015.
They will join some of baseball’s top prospects for the annual showcase, which comes two days before the All-Star Game at Petco Field. Dozier will play for the United States team, while Bonifacio, a native of the Dominican Republic, will represent the World team, Major League Baseball announced Tuesday.
“(We’re) proud of he year both guys are having,” Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said. “They have matured as hitters and handled themselves well in Omaha. It’s a great honor and well deserved.”
Dozier entered Tuesday batting .301 with 15 homers, 22 doubles and 44 RBIs in 73 games, split between Class AA Northwest Arkansas. Dozier, a first-round pick in 2013, began the season at Northwest Arkansas after hitting just .213 with 151 strikeouts for the Naturals in 2015. He opened the season on a tear, hitting .305 with eight homers and eight doubles in 26 games before being promoted to Omaha. He has continued to produce, with his .366 on-base percentage marking his best since a 2013 season split between Class A Lexington and Rookie League Idaho Falls.
“He’s off to having a great year and always been a real solid third baseman,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “I’m pleased to see both of those guys going and getting a little exposure at that. Those Futures Games are fun at the All-Star Game. They get to play under the bright lights, and it’s going to be a big deal for them.”
Bonifacio is batting .299 with 12 homers, 15 doubles and six triples while playing a corner outfield position at Class AAA Omaha. He ranks fourth in the Pacific Coast League with 147 total bases. The production comes after a strong cameo during the spring. In 15 spring training games, Bonifacio batted .321 with two homers and three doubles.
“You can see he’s developing into a real nice outfielder,” Yost said. “He covers his position well out there, but his ability, for me, to swing the bat, you can just see him growing in that area.”
The selection of Dozier and Bonifacio comes during a season of mixed results for Kansas City’s top prospects. Right-hander Kyle Zimmer, generally viewed as the organization’s top young arm, has been sidelined by ongoing shoulder issues. Shortstop Raul A. Mondesi had to serve a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a banned substance. Outfielder Bubba Starling is batting .186 with five homers at Class AA Northwest Arkansas.
Bonifacio, the younger brother of one-time Royals utility man Emilio Bonifacio, signed with Kansas City as a free agent in 2009. He is currently a member of the club’s 40-man roster. Dozier is not on the 40-man roster and was a nonroster invitee to spring training. He signed a $2.2 million signing bonus after being selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft.