Don’t Race Out to Steal Bonifacio

The Florida Marlins and Washington Nationals consummated a deal this week that saw Major Leaguers Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham relocate to the nation’s capital, while a trip of inexpensive youngsters head for some fun in the sun. Of those three players obtained by Florida – Emilio Bonifacio, Jake Smolinski, and P.J. Dean – only Bonifacio is likely to receive any significant playing time in the Majors in 2009… or 2010 or 2011.

Bonifacio was originally signed by Arizona as a non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2001. He has six minor league seasons under his belt and posted modest numbers during that span, although he did show impressive stolen base abilities each season. His career minor league line is .285/.341/.362 in 2,574 at-bats.

Bonifacio first surfaced in the Majors in 2007 with Arizona and he hit .217/.333/.261 in 23 at-bats. In 2008, he managed 157 at-bats split between Arizona and Washington (He was acquired in the Jon Rauch deal). Bonifacio hit .243/.296/.337 with an ISO of .095 as well as rates of 7.7 BB% and 27.2 K%. He strikes out too much to be an effective lead-off hitter and he does not walk enough to take full advantage of his speed. On the plus side, his strikeout rate in 2008 was about 10 percent higher than in his minor league career, so we can chalk some of that up to the small sample size. Bonifacio also swings at pitches outside the strike zone just 28 percent of the time.

At the Major League level, Bonifaco has been successful stealing bases just seven times in 12 attempts (58%). At the minor league level, Bonifacio has shown the ability to steal 50-60 bases a season, which could come in extremely handy in Fantasy Leagues. Bill James projects Bonifacio to steal 27 bases, at a modest success rate, with regular playing time in 2009. His projection of a .272 average may be a little on the high side, though.

After focusing on some other more important areas in your fantasy draft, look to Bonifacio for some cheap steals – just don’t expect much more out of him.

We hoped you liked reading Don’t Race Out to Steal Bonifacio by Marc Hulet!

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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An ISO of .905 is quite impressive. Bonifacio may be a power hitter unlike anything we have ever seen.