Thirty days in a Naturals uniform was all it took to notice the standout talent of Naturals Outfielder Jorge Bonifacio. Others noticed a lot sooner of course, but whether it took 25 games or one swing during Batting Practice the 20-year-old impressed just like he has at every other professional level.
"Wow!" was the first impression of Jorge by Naturals Broadcaster Steven Davis when the six-year Voice of the Naturals was watching Bonifacio take his first swings in on the field in North Little Rock before his Naturals debut on July 30th.
"He had a good presence about him, a kind of air," Davis remembers about that night in which Jorge blasted a 2-run Double off of Travelers 12-game winner Brandon Hynick. "He wasn't intimidated or scared about the jump [to Double-A] and he showed he belonged by the way he played."
After batting fifth or fourth for most of his first week in Double-A, Bonifacio showed the capabilities for even more responsibility as the Naturals were battling for a playoff spot. By August 8th, Naturals Skipper Brian Poldberg penciled the 20-year-old into the third-spot in the lineup where he would remain until he was shut down as a precaution with just three days before the end of the season. Batting third for the Naturals in 17 games, Bonifacio hit .323 with a homerun, four doubles, and 15 RBI.
"He made adjustments and became a better hitter, and even got hits off pitcher's pitches," Davis references in Bonifacio showing the ability to hit a pitcher's best-pitch. "His game really developed."
Jorge is the younger brother of Major Leaguer Emilio Bonifacio. The Royals traded for the elder sibling by eight years in mid-August, but the brothers are almost complete opposites on the field. Emilio is known for his glovework and speed, while Jorge has shown flashes of raw power at the plate and a strong arm in the outfield.
Baseball America had rated the younger Bonifacio as the second-best hitting prospect in the Royals Organization and the youngster gave the Organization ample reason for a late-season promotion. In 54 games for Vance Wilson's Wilmington Blue Rock's, Bonifacio hit .296 with 2 homeruns, 11 doubles, 3 triples, and 29 RBI.
"One thing is you forget how young he is," says Davis about Bonifacio who was 19-years-old at the start of the season. "He was one of the youngest guys in the league."
In 25 total games for the Naturals in 2013, Bonifacio hit .301 with 19 RBI. In 9 games in the Arizona Fall League's Peoria Javelinas, he is 9-for-33 with 4 doubles and 2 RBI.
The Seventh Season of Naturals Baseball begins Thursday, April 3, 2014 in Frisco, TX. The team opens at Arvest Ballpark on Thursday April 10, 2014 against the same Frisco Rough Riders.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League Affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The Naturals play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, AR. For more information including statistics, ticket options, and more, please visit NWANaturals.com, and follow us on Twitter @NWANaturals and Facebook.com/Naturals.