Manager Ned Yost didn’t know it at the time, but he sort of predicted that outfielder Jorge Bonifacio would be recalled by the Royals.
Talking with media members at spring training in Surprise, Ariz., Yost raved about Bonifacio’s play.
“He’s a kid that has progressed well,” Yost said. “Is he a guy who could play in the big leagues right now? Absolutely. He just needs opportunity. It’s nice to have guys like that that we feel if something happened, we’re well-covered.”
Well, something has happened. The Royals’ offense is in a funk and needs a kick-start. On Friday, the Royals recalled Bonifacio from Class AAA Omaha (along with left-hander Matt Strahm). Bonifacio is a 23-year-old native of the Dominican Republic who is 6 foot 1 and 220 pounds.
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Here are seven things to know about Bonifacio, who could make his major-league debut as early as Friday night.
▪ Brian Poldberg, Bonifacio’s manager at Class AAA Omaha, told the Omaha World-Herald last year that Bonifacio could be in a category with Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Paulo Orlando when it comes to defensive ability. And he can play anywhere in the outfield, depending on the need.
“He’s going to open a door for himself with how he plays,” Poldberg told the World-Herald. “He’s a big kid and moves well. He’s everywhere out there.”
Bonifacio had 17 outfield assists while playing for Omaha last season.
▪ Bonifacio was named the Storm Chasers Player of the Year by Omaha media members last year after leading the team in total bases (228), walks (51), home runs (19), RBIs (86), runs (82) and hits (137).
▪ At last year’s Futures Game, Bonifacio walked twice in his two plate appearances.
▪ Bonifacio is the younger brother of Emilio Bonifacio, who played for the Royals in 2013. Emilio is in his 11th big-league season and is playing for the Atlanta Braves. “I want to be better than my brother,” Jorge Bonifacio told the Daily Herald in 2012.
▪ In spring training this year, Bonifacio hit .417 (12 for 29) with three home runs and seven RBIs. He had a 1.261 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
▪ In 2011, when he was 17, Bonifacio was picked by Baseball America as one of the top 20 prospects in the Latin American Summer Leagues after batting .335 with a .429 on-base percentage and 28 RBIs in 48 games. He was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2009.
▪ Bonifacio suffered a broken hamate bone in 2013, which limited him to 87 games. In the final five weeks of that season, Bonifacio batted .301 with a .371 on-base percentage.