It’s never easy to dissect what could be meaningful performances in spring training, but Royals prospect Jorge Bonifacio, the younger brother of former Royal Emilio Bonifacio, impressed the skipper Monday during a 9-7 loss to the White Sox.
Bonifacio, just 20 years old, ripped an RBI single that gave the Royals a 4-3 lead in the fourth, then bombed a two-run homer in the eighth.
That three-RBI performance from Bonifacio brought a smile to manager Ned Yost’s face.
"He got the big hit to give us the lead and then he got the home run," Yost told reporters in Arizona. "He’s been a player we’ve liked ever since he came into the organization. It’s fun to watch him continue to grow and develop. We think he’s going to be a good player."
Yes, the organization does have high hopes for the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Bonifacio, who finished last season with 25 games at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He hit .301 with a .371 on-base percentage there with seven doubles, two homers and 19 RBIs.
Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo says Bonifacio likely will start the season again in Double-A but could be ticketed for advancement soon after.
"I’d say he’s our most advanced and consistent upper-level hitter that we have right now," Picollo says. "He puts a consistent swing on everything and doesn’t chase a lot of bad pitches. He doesn’t get beat very much by fastballs, either. Just a very mature 20."
The Royals also got two hits and two RBI on Monday from Jarrod Dyson, who’s a lock to be the club’s fourth outfielder.
"Dys had a big day, with two big hits against two tough left-handers," Yost said.
Jeremy Guthrie started and gave up a three-run homer in the first but pitched a scoreless second.
Luke Hochevar was solid in two scoreless innings, striking out two. Hochevar continues to work his way back toward the rotation, though Yost concedes that the bullpen could be the best spot for him.
"We know both Luke and Wade (Davis) have been starters in the past and we know they still can be productive starters," Yost said. "But if it’s in the best interests of the team to have them in the pen… then that’s what we’ll do."
Left-hander Tim Collins, who likely could be the Royals’ only lefty in the pen to start the season, had a rough day, giving up four hits and four runs (only one earned) in less than an inning.
"Spring training is a time to work on things," Yost said. "He kind of had a lazy curveball. What he’s working on is getting a touch and feel for that curveball without overthrowing it and still getting a good sharp break on it.
"Right now is the time to get a feel for that pitch. When he has a feel for it, it’s a devastating pitch."
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter @jflanagankc or email firstname.lastname@example.org.