Jorge Bonifacio Infuses Royals With New Energy

Don’t confuse 23-year-old outfielder Jorge Bonifacio with his older brother Emilio, who has played 11 years in the majors.

“I’m a different player,” Jorge said. “I know I can’t run like my brother can. My brother is fast. I can steal bases, but not like him. His game is different than mine. I try to hit the ball as hard as I can to get a homer, double or get a base hit.”

Jorge, whom the Royals called up in April, homered in his second big league game and hit 19 last season at Triple-A Omaha. Royals manager Ned Yost batted Bonifacio third in the order in just his second big league game.

He has the power to hit 20 homers annually in the majors.

Bonifacio’s first call upon learning he was coming to the majors was to his brother.

“It was an exciting moment for me,” Jorge said. “I just told him I got that call. He was real excited. As soon as I got to Texas, I said, ‘This is for real.’ ”

After going 0-for-3 in his debut, Bonifacio went 9-for-27 (.375) in his next seven games.

While he played primarily the outfield corners in the minors, Bonifacio started in center field on April 23 in Texas.

“It’s something different,” said Bonifacio, who signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2009. “I played in center field my first two years (2010-11) of pro ball and last year I played two games in center.”

Bonifacio has long been on the Royals’ prospect radar, especially after he recovered from breaking his hamate bone in 2013.

“He’s just a young kid with a lot of energy,” Yost said. “He gives you a very consistent, pretty darn good at-bat just about every time up for a young guy. He doesn’t panic.

“It’s not like he’s called to the big leagues for the first time and he’s in awe. He fits right into these surroundings nicely. He’s got a good eye, he’s strong and he’s a good defensive player.”

— Alan Eskew is a writer based in Kansas City

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