Diamondbacks Profile: 2B Emilio Bonifacio

Second Baseman Emilio Bonifacio profiles as the best overall prospect among the six Diamondbacks called up when the major league rosters expanded. With probably the best speed and infield range in the entire Arizona organization, Bonifacio serves as a fantastic late-inning role player now, and should be the team's second baseman of the future.


Name: Emilio Bonifacio
Position: Second Base
DOB: 04/23/1985
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 180 lbs
B/T: B/R

History: We ranked Emilio Bonifacio as the 12th best prospect in the Diamondbacks' organization in our offseason FutureBacks Fifty.  Frankly, a lot of people in the organization thought that ranking was too low.  Bonifacio has drawn comparisons to Rickey Henderson on offense, and is probably the best defensive infielder in the Diamondbacks' system.

Arizona Diamondbacks Director of Player Development A.J. Hinch describes Bonifacio as "a very exciting player with definite MLB tools; a nice mix of speed, ability to play defense, and an offensive threat."

But with just 11 career home runs and strikeout totals that outnumber his walks by nearly three-to-one, the 22-year old Bonifacio is no Rickey Henderson.  That being said, we probably did indeed rank him a little low.  He's still developing with the stick, but if you like speed and defense, Emilio Bonifacio is your man. 

2003 Missoula 18 Rk 54 146 20 29 1 1 0 16 15 3 18 43 .199 .298 .219
2004 S Bend 19 A 120 411 59 107 9 6 1 37 40 10 25 122 .260 .306 .319
2005 S Bend 20 A 127 522 81 141 14 7 1 44 55 17 56 90 .270 .341 .330
2006 Lncaster 21 A+ 130 546 117 175 35 7 7 50 58 14 45 104 .321 .375 .449
2007 Mobile 22 AA 132 551 84 157 21 5 2 40 41 13 38 105 .285 .333 .352
Totals - 5 Seasons 559 2162 359 604 79 26 11 187 209 56 182 462 .279 .338 .355

Statistics Courtesy of The Baseball Cube

Batting and Power:  As a switch hitter, Bonifacio is necessarily taking a little longer to develop at the plate than your average prospect.  He essentially needs to see twice as many pitches as a non-switch hitter to keep pace developmentally.  As a result, his offensive numbers look a little anemic, although he did hit .341 in the Dominican Winter Leagues this offseason.

Those 49 extra base hits in 2006 are misleading, as the left field wall in his home ballpark was within spitting distance of the shortstop.  Just 14 of those extra base hits came on the road, where he hit just .248 last year.

But lack of power is hardly the concern for Bonifacio.  He's going to be a top-of-the-order hitter someday, and he really needs to improve his pitch selectivity.  With the kind of speed that Bonifacio possesses, it just makes sense for him to put the ball in play as often as possible and to take walks whenever he can get them.  He does put the ball on the ground a lot, which is what you want from a speed demon, but Bonifacio still has a lot of room for improvement at the plate.  

Baserunning and Speed: A.J. Hinch named Bonifacio as the fastest prospect in the organization by far.  We probably didn't need him to tell us that, though.  Bonifacio has stolen over 40 bases in each of the past four seasons, and swiped 15 consecutive bags earlier this year. 

This area is where he really does compare to the great Rickey Henderson.  Not only is Bonifacio super fast, but he reads pitchers well and gets good jumps.  He wants to steal a base every time he gets on first, and wants to turn every outfield hit into an extra base endeavor.  The Diamondbacks organization preaches aggressiveness in all facets of the game, but Emilio Bonifacio is one player who they have had to pull the reigns on from time to time.    

Defense: Hinch told us that Bonifacio has not only the best speed in the organization, but also the best infield range.  Infield Coordinator Tony Perezchica put him even with Visalia shortstop Pedro Ciriaco for best infield range in the system.

"He plays 100 miles an hour," said Perezchica.  "We've got to harness all that energy and smooth it out a little bit more," he added. 

With his combination of speed and range, Bonifacio's average arm is really all that keeps him from playing shortstop on a daily basis.

"He played a little short at Mobile," Perezchica reminded us.  "Is he going to be a shortstop every day in the big leagues?  No, but he's another kid that... if he can play short, then he can be at least the 25th man on the bench.  Or, he can play second, and spell the shortstop maybe a day or two playing the other side, which is always a benefit, especially at the higher levels."

Major League Clone: "He reminds me of a young Luis Castillo," said Diamondbacks third base coach Chip Hale.  That sounds about right to us.

Prediction/ETA: Right now, Bonifacio isn't going to be asked to do much other than pinch run and play late-inning defense.  But he should be the team's utility infielder out of spring training next year, and could take over full time at second base as early as 2009 if he can make a little more contact and draw a couple more walks.


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