The Red Sox did not lose infield prospect Brainer Bonaci in the major-league phase of Wednesday’s Rule 5 Draft.
Bonaci, 20, ended the season ranked by Baseball America as the No. 20 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The switch-hitter spent the entirety of the 2022 campaign with Low-A Salem and batted .262/.397/.385 (125 wRC+) with 19 doubles, six triples, six home runs, 50 RBIs, 86 runs scored, 28 stolen bases, 89 walks, and 89 strikeouts over 108 games spanning 494 trips to the plate.
Among qualified Carolina League hitters, Bonaci ranked second in walk rate (18 percent), ninth in strikeout rate (18 percent) sixth in swinging-strike rate (8.1 percent), 19th in batting average, second in on-base percentage, 23rd in slugging percentage, 11th in OPS (.782), 11th in stolen bases, 12th in speed score (7.8), eighth in line-drive rate (24.4 percent), and sixth in wRC+, per FanGraphs.
Defensively, Bonaci saw playing time at three different positions this year. The 5-foot-10, 164-pounder expectedly logged 477 1/3 innings at second base, 67 innings at third base, and 267 2/3 innings at shortstop. But he also made one appearance as an outfielder for the first time in his career as he logged one inning in right field back on April 17.
Born in Venezuela, Bonaci originally signed with the Red Sox for $290,000 as an international free agent on his 16th birthday in 2018. The Catia La Mar made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League the following year and then impressed evaluators at fall instructs after the 2020 minor-league season was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. He spent the majority of 2021 in the Florida Complex League before earning a late-season promotion to Salem and — as previously mentioned — put together a solid year at Low-A in 2022.
In a virtual chat with Baseball America subscribers last month, The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier wrote that Bonaci did garner some consideration as a potential top 10 prospect in the Red Sox farm system heading into the 2023 season, but questions surrounding his bat-to-ball skills put him behind No. 10 prospect (and fellow versatile infielder) Eddinson Paulino.
The Red Sox were at risk of losing both Bonaci and Paulino in this week’s Rule 5 Draft since neither was added to the 40-man roster last month. Fortunately for them, Bonaci and Paulino went unclaimed, which likely has something to do with their lack of experience in the upper-minors. That said, the two infielders will again be Rule 5-eligible again next winter.
Bonaci, who does not turn 21 until next July, currently grades as a superior defender to Paulino, according to Speier. Both are projected to make the jump to High-A Greenville for the start of the 2023 minor-league season in April.
(Picture of Brainer Bonaci: Robert Simmons/RTS Photography)