Midwest League: Jorge Bonifacio leads Cougars contingent
By Mike Knapp For Sun-Times Media June 18, 2012 5:50PM
Kane County’s Jorge Bonifacio is one four Midwest League all-stars who will play in front of the hometown fans Tuesday in Geneva. | Photo courtesy of Kane County Cougars
Updated: July 20, 2012 6:22AM
When Jorge Bonifacio takes the field Tuesday night for the Midwest League All-Star Game at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, he will be one of the youngest players on either team.
Bonifacio, who turned 19 on June 4, doesn’t seem all that bothered by that fact.
Still, he has been more than impressive in his first full pro season and is living up to his preseason ranking as one of the top players in the Kansas City Royals organization.
Tuesday’s 6 p.m. game will feature four Cougars players, as outfielder Lane Adams joins Bonifacio in the starting lineup for the Western Division squad, while infielder Danny Mateo will come off the bench and Matt Ridings will fill his usual role out of the bullpen.
“I’m excited to be part of the team,” Bonifacio said through Cougars hitting coach Julio Bruno.
“I’m proud that I am one of the youngest players in the league to be in the game, at the same time out on the field everyone is the same age as it’s the same game we play out there.”
Signed by the Royals when he was 16 in 2009, this is Bonifacio’s third pro season, but his first on the 140-game full-season level.
He hit the ground running, batting .340 in April, and heads to the break hitting .314 — good for fourth-best in the league — while leading the league in hits (85) and standing second in total bases (127). His 42 RBI stand second on the Cougars behind Adams’ 44.
He’s hitting the all-star game on a tear, picking up six multi-hit games in his last seven contests, a span where he is batting .419 (13-for-31) with 15 RBI.
Bonifacio is carries an above-average arm in the outfield, having notched seven assists on the season.
A native of the Dominican Republic, he is the younger brother of Miami Marlins utility man Emilio Bonifacio, who is currently on the disabled list with a torn thumb ligament. He looks up to his brother, who is eight years his senior, and they both talk about playing at the same time in the big leagues someday.
“My brother always motivates me,” he said. “When I’m struggling he’s always calling me and helping me out.”
Bonifacio tries to emulate his brother by following his example of working hard and trying to be the best player on the field.
But like most little brothers, it doesn’t stop there.
“I want to get to the big leagues and stay there,” he said, “and be better than my brother.”
Tuesday’s game will be the third time Kane County has hosted the all-star game, having previously held the game in 2000 and 2007.
Last year the game was played at Quad Cities, where the Western Division rolled to an 8-3 win.