Red Sox prospects: Has Brainer Bonaci already taken another step forward?

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Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox / Nick Grace/GettyImages

Brainer Bonaci entered the 2022 season as an intriguing prospect for the Boston Red Sox. Not only was he already a strong defensive shortstop as a teenager, but a switch-hitter with an advanced feel for the strike zone.

Bonaci took to the defensive side of things immediately in Single-A. He looked smooth and was throwing in plenty of highlight-reel plays. Offensively, there was something there with his command of the strike zone. Bonaci was rarely striking out and drawing plenty of walks.

However, the lack of power hurt his stock. You don't need home run power to be a good baseball player, but it's something that fans especially love to point to. If you aren't producing some pop, questions about how much you can impact the game will start to crop up.

Heading into July 13, Bonaci was slashing .242/.379/.310. The OBP was great, but that slugging percentage was tough to look at. He managed to sneak it up to .337 before July 26, thanks to a handful of doubles and triples. Bonaci still had zero home runs on the season, though.

Then on July 26, Bones hit his first two home runs of the season. After that, he looked like a much different hitter the rest of the way.

The switch-hitting shortstop would finish 2022 with a .262/.397/.385 slash line featuring 19 doubles, six triples, and six home runs. He drove in 50 runs, scored 86 more, and stole 28 bases. The craziest stat had to do with his walks to strikeouts. Bones walked as many times (89) as he struck out (89). That type of plate discipline felt special for someone so young.

Bonaci didn't suddenly transfer into a masher, but there was life in the bat. Enough that you could point to the defense, OBP, bat-to-ball skills, and base running and say, "This is more than enough".

Red Sox prospect Brainer Bonaci rebounded after a slow start

2023 would be a big test for Bonaci, though. After spending the 2022 season in Single-A, he would be starting the new year in High-A. Things were made even harder for the 20-year-old thanks to visa issues delaying his arrival to came. Due to that, Bonaci needed some time to get ramped up when the season started. He wouldn't debut until April 29, more than three weeks into the season.

Bonaci didn't come out of the gates hot. A 3-for-20 start highlighted the fact that Greenville had a logjam in the infield, and Bonaci getting playing time every day wasn't guaranteed.

Four straight two-hit games changed the story fast. Things have only gotten better from there.

Since his 3-for-20 start, Bonaci has had a hit in 18-of-20 games. That includes a current eight-game hitting streak. The Boston Red Sox prospect now holds a .350/.404/.540 with eight doubles, one triple, and three home runs this season. He's driven in 19 runs, scored 13 more, and stolen four bases in 25 games.

Bonaci's hot streak has perfectly timed with some roster moves. Chase Meidroth was promoted to Double-A on May 7, the same day Bonaci's 18-of-20 game stretch started. Marcelo Mayer jumped up to Double-A following Greenville's May 28 game. Suddenly, Bones had a clear path to starting daily at shortstop.

Bonaci doesn't have the same strikeout/walk ratio, but he's a 20-year-old playing in High-A. It shouldn't be surprising to anyone that he's needed to adjust a bit. That's the only area that appears to need adjusting, though. Bonaci is showing off elite hitting from both sides of the plate.

His numbers against left-handed pitching have been particularly absurd (12-for-22 with two home runs). A .284/.361/.459 slash line against right-handed pitching is phenomenal as well, though.

The legend of Brainer Bonaci A.K.A. "Bo-saucy" A.K.A. "Bones" has been growing quietly over the last 12 months. However, it's not so quiet anymore.

The Boston Red Sox have a crowded scene of middle infielders in their minor league system. Brainer Bonaci is finding a way to stand out thanks to an incredible introduction to High-A.