Jorge Bonifacio | OF, Royals | Born: 6/4/1993
The first thing I notice about Jorge Bonifacio is that he’s not like his brother, Emilio. Well, perhaps they have similar personalities or something. Maybe they read the same books and watch the same TV shows and share the same wit. But I couldn’t care less about that crap. In terms of baseball, you might as well remove Emilio from your mind while considering Jorge — I don’t want the elder Bonifacio muddying your perception here. Jorge ain’t a speedster. He’s stolen only ten bags over the past two years, and he’s been caught stealing nine times during that same stretch. No, Jorge does his damage at the plate, not on the basepaths. He has an easy stroke from the right side and he barrels the ball — breaking pitches, fastballs… whatever. And while his line at Low-A Kane County (.281/.336/.433, 10 HR, 61 RBI) isn’t blowing anyone away, the vibe from baseball folks around the industry is that Bonifacio is for real. I’m just a 25-minute drive from the Kane County ballpark and I attend their games often. Bonifacio can hit, yo. His approach is a tad aggressive, but he’ll still work his way deep into counts, fouling off all sorts of pitches. He flashes effortless power, projecting to hit 20+ in the bigs. He’ll put up a nice AVG too.
From all perspectives, this has been a solid first year of full-season ball for the 19-year-old. Bonifacio has a great shot at reaching Double-A sometime next year, but the Royals are notoriously sensitive to service time and are rarely aggressive with development. Still, look forward to bigger production from him next year, and put him on your fantasy radar.
Jose Fernandez | RHP, Marlins | Born: 7/31/1992
Miami recently acquired Jacob Turner in the Anibal Sanchez deal, and Turner is a fine prospect, but he’s not the top arm in the Marlins’ system. No, that title belongs to Jose Fernandez, a 20-year-old who’s been tearing apart A-ball hitters all year long. Fernandez started the year in the Low-A South Atlantic League where his early success was overshadowed by big names like Dylan Bundy and Matt Barnes. After going 7-0 with 99 whiffs, a 1.59 ERA, and a 0.87 WHIP through his first 14 outings, however, he busted through to High-A, and didn’t slow much: 2.57 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 35 K in 35 IP. At 6-3, 215, Fernandez sure looks like a frontline arm, and he brings a power arsenal, featuring a mid-90s fastball, a plus slider, and a nice changeup. He’s also universally touted for outstanding work ethic and pitching approach.
There really isn’t much bad to say about Fernandez. The upside here is enormous — not quite Dylan Bundy / Taijuan Walker enormous, but he’s in that next tier, along with guys like Jameson Taillon, Gerrit Cole and Zack Wheeler. Miami will likely have Fernandez finish the year at High-A, but depending on how things go next spring, he could start 2013 at Double-A. With his makeup and repertoire, a hasty ascension seems likely.