Emilio Bonifacio made just 43 plate appearances in 24 games for Atlanta last season, slashing .211/.268/.211. He'll compete for a utility job in spring training, and even though he didn't play any infield position last season, he has experience playing second base, third base and shortstop, along with all three outfield positions.
Bonifacio has two hits in 18 at-bats to begin 2017. Bonifacio sees the bulk of his playing time as a pinch hitter and defensive replacement during the late innings of ballgames. Once a threat on the basepaths, the 32-year-old stole only two bases over the previous two seasons. In 2016, Bonifacio hit .211 over 43 plate appearances.
The Braves selected Bonifacio's contract from the minors Sunday. It was revealed days earlier that Bonifacio won an Opening Day gig, so his addition to the 40-man roster was merely a procedural move. Bonifacio is expected to serve in a depth role in the outfield and at second base, likely offering most of his value as a pinch runner off the bench.
Bonifacio has been told he will make the Opening Day roster, David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The veteran utility man hasn't officially been added to the 40-man roster yet, but Bonifacio seemed assured of a job after Micah Johnson (wrist) got hurt, leaving the Braves without any other viable options in camp to handle center field behind Ender Inciarte. Bonifacio's playing time will likely be limited, but if he does work his way into the starting lineup he could become a cheap source of steals.
Bonifacio got the start in center field for Saturday's Grapefruit League game against the Cardinals, going 1-for-3 with a run scored and two stolen bases. He's now hitting a cool .300 (6-for-20) on the spring while his main competition for a bench spot, Micah Johnson, saw his average tumble to .233 (7-for-30) after he went 0-for-4 on Saturday with two strikeouts. Bonifacio would seem to be in the lead for the fourth outfielder role, and while he hasn't seen much time in the majors since 2014, the veteran did steal 26 bases in 110 games that season. With a utility job, the 31-year-old could be worth a look as a late-round or reserve pick for fantasy players in need of some extra speed.
Bonifacio is likely competing with Micah Johnson for the final spot on the Braves' bench, Mike Nabors of MLB.com reports. He has more experience in the outfield and as a utility player, which could give him an edge over Johnson, but Bonifacio's also off to a better start at the plate this spring, hitting .267 (4-for-15) so far. Whichever player wins the job isn't likely to see much playing time, though, greatly limiting their fantasy value.
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