MARIETTA, Ga. - Luke Bonfield is a prime example of an if-you-work-hard-enough-you-can-make-your-dreams-a-reality kind of story. In the past few months Bonfield has swung his way to the top of the rankings for the high school class of 2014 through his performance at the National Showcase and now at the 2013 18u WWBA National Championship.
It didn’t just happen overnight, however. Bonfield is the true definition of a workhorse. He wants to be the best and he will do whatever it takes to get there, even if it means hitting the weight room at the early hour of four in the morning. That’s right, Bonfield says when it’s the offseason he is working out at 4 am.
“I like to think I’m one of the hardest working players in the country. My mindset is ‘when you’re not working, someone else is,’” said Bonfield. “Say it’s nine o’clock in New Jersey, it’s six o’clock in California so someone’s working.”
Well it seems one way to make sure he gets a leg up on the competition would be to lift when the majority of the country is asleep.
“Luke is a hard worker, he’s a gym rat,” said Bonfield’s Atlanta Blue Jays coach, Anthony Dye. “He’s always at the field, he wants to stay at the field, (and) he wants to hit.”
Bonfield is well deserving of his recent success that has caught the eyes of scouts and college coaches across the country. He knew how good he was, he just needed a stage to show off his skills and he took full advantage of his opportunity at the National Showcase in Minnesota last month.
“I came in feeling like I had something to prove,” Bonfield said. “Feeling like maybe Perfect Game hadn’t seen me enough to get a good grasp on what I can really do.”
He did just that at National with the bat in his hands. Bonfield stood out at one of the more impressive hitters in batting practice and translated that into game action. His first at-bat at National, Bonfield collected an RBI double off a slider by standout pitcher Luis Ortiz.
“I just tried to focus on hitting the ball and showing what I can do,” said Bonfield.
He went 5-for-5 with two doubles at the National Showcase in the Metrodome, immediately grabbing every scout’s attention.
“After National, I got so many offers. It was unbelievable,” Bonfield recalled. “I told my dad it was like a dream.”
Dye was familiar with what Bonfield can do with the bat.
“His approach reminds me of when Tim Backham (1st overall pick in 2008 MLB Draft) played for us,” said Dye. “(He’s) strong, drives the baseball, (and) always has a great at-bat.”
Dye had high praise for Bonfield’s work ethic and desire to learn and improve his game, saying, “He always goes over his at-bats with me and the things that I think or I see in his approach and he makes those adjustments. He asks a lot of questions in between innings.”
Today, in a 3-3 tie with Gators Baseball-Reagan, Bonfield went 1-for-3 with a hard hit single and even his other two at-bats were loud outs. He is now 5-for-16 with two doubles in the tournament. The Atlanta Blue Jays are now 5-0-1.
“In the game of baseball you gotta swing the bat, and that’s what he does well,” Dye said. “It doesn’t matter who’s pitching, he’s always going up there with a good at-bat to execute his plan.”
Bonfield hopes to impress the scouts here at the WWBA National Championship like he did up in Minnesota. He brings his A-game whenever he takes the field.
“He hustles, he runs, (and he) plays hard,” said Dye.
Bonfield enjoys the ambience of the Perfect Game events and always looks forward to showing up and getting attention.
“Perfect Game events are always top-notch, top competition,” Bonfield said. “I’m just trying to carry over what I did from National: hit the ball hard and try and help my team win.”
‘Team’ is what’s important to Bonfield and his Atlanta Blue Jays teammates.
“We got a saying in our program, ‘Once a Blue Jay, always a Blue Jay,’” said Dye. “We consider ourselves a family and that just comes from all of the old guys that played.”
Not only does Dye appreciate Bonfield as a player and a teammate, but he says he has an even bigger role on this Atlanta Blue Jays team.
“We have very good leaders in Luke, and Touki Toussaint, and Raphael Ramirez,” Dye said. “They do a good job of keeping everybody loose and relaxed and those guys come out everyday ready to compete.”
A competitor, that’s the perfect way to simply describe the type of player Bonfield is. A workhorse, a student of the game, a teammate, a leader, a winner, and an achiever are all words that describe Bonfield.
He is a success story who knows all about getting what you want through hard work and discipline and he is the type of player every coach and every other player wants in his team.