The Kansas City Royals were in a bit of an offensive rut heading into a Sunday matchup with the Texas Rangers.
OK, it was more than a rut. The Royals hadn’t scored more than three runs in 10 of their past 11 games. Their slash line of .209/.274/.324 is among the worst in baseball — if not the worst — so it was clear Kansas City needed to spark its lineup somehow.
The Royals turned to their farm system, calling up outfield prospect Jorge Bonifacio on Friday, who at 23 years old was already somewhat of a stalwart in the minor leagues.
Here’s how Baseball Prospectus described his ascent through the KC farm system:
The Carolina and Texas leagues brought him to national attention and he snuck onto the back of the 2014 BP 101. Bonifacio’s bat stagnated in Double-A however, and he would spend all of 2014 and 2015 at that level. He did slowly start to get more of his plus raw power into games—a hamate injury cost him some of 2013—and at the end of 2016 got some post-hype chatter after he set a career high in home runs with 19 for the Storm Chasers. Although he’s been around forever in prospect terms, he is still only 23, and the power is major-league-ready.
That major league power is exactly what the Royals were expecting when they put Bonifacio in the three spot in the lineup on Sunday and, boy, did he prove he has it.
After going 0-for-3 in his ML debut Friday, Bonifacio picked up a single in the first inning Sunday, then launched a rocket of a home run to left center in the third. Both came off Yu Darvish — who finally struck him out the third time he saw the rookie.
The Texas Ranger still defeated Kansas City, 5-2, so it’s not like Bonifacio — who finished the day two-for-four — solved all its problems. The bottom half of the Royals’ lineup went 0-for-15. No matter how loaded you are at the top of the order, that’s never going to cut it.
Still, some help is on the way, though it will force a few decisions from KC’s front office.
Jorge Soler is expected back from injury soon, making spots in the outfield more scarce.
But offense will trump all right now as the Royals won’t go anywhere without it. No one is going to go too overboard after one good game, but Bonifacio is certainly giving Kansas City a reason to keep him in the majors.
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