If you need to make up some ground in SB's, this could be your cheap ticket...
ROTOWORLD: Emilio Bonifacio – 2B Nationals – Recently acquired from the Diamondbacks in exchange for Jon Rauch, Bonifacio is now the Nationals' second basemen of the future. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2001 and debuting in the U.S. in 2003, Bonifacio has made a slow but steady progression towards the majors. While he did show decent batting averages, Bonifacio's bat only looked strong the one year he played in the extremely hitter-friendly environment that is Lancaster of the California League. What did get Bonifacio noticed was his defense, which draws rave reviews and projects to be somewhere between above average and Gold Glove-caliber in the majors.
Fantasy owners aren't really interested in defense, but Bonifacio's is good enough that it will keep him in the lineup as long as he can maintain a decent batting average. The 5'10", 190-pound switch-hitter was batting .314 with 20 doubles, five triples, and a homer in 398 at-bats before his callup, and that came with a decent 68/31 K/BB. Since he'll put the ball in play most times and has incredible speed, Bonifacio could scratch out a batting average around .280 despite a lack of power.
And that's the most alluring part about Bonifacio's game, his speed. He's swiped a minimum of 40 bases in each of the last four seasons, topping out at 58 and always doing so at a good percentage. He's slipped in both opportunities and effectiveness this year with just 21 steals in 31 tries, but Bonifacio is a true 40-steal threat. He could be equivalent to Luis Castillo minus some walks and plus some defense, but he'll likely settle in as a poor man's Castillo instead.
The Nationals have already handed him the second base job and leadoff spot in the lineup for the rest of the season. General manager Jim Bowden also went as far as to say they have Bonifacio penciled in as the club's leadoff hitter for 2009, though he'll need to justify that position at least a little down the stretch. I suspect he'll struggle to hit for much average this year and into next, and then establish himself as a decent regular in 2010. That said, as long as his defense and promise are keeping him in the lineup, Bonifacio is a very useful fantasy asset given his wheels. He could be somewhat under-the-radar given he's not a top prospect, but he's worth pursuing fairly aggressively.
Recommendation: Pursue in NL-only leagues and all deep keeper formats.