7.25.2013

Prospecting: Nick Delmonico

Is this really the best picture I could find?
Ryan Braun got suspended, and you can read about that here and here, especially if you enjoy some rumors and wild speculation.  Not so wild, but they are definitely a different approach.  That being said, I'm not here to talk about Ryan Braun.  I'm here to talk about a surprisingly good trade that Doug Melvin and company pulled off for a reliever that nobody wanted to sign in the offseason.

The trade that was made? Closer Francisco Rodriguez for Nick Delmonico, a third baseman in the Baltimore Orioles system.  So a player that most of major league baseball had no interest in, who had to start his year in the minor leagues, netted Milwaukee the Orioles No. 5 overall prospect (or No. 4 depending on which list you read).  Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me, so let's find out about the new guy.

Who is Nick Delmonico?

I guess for starters, he's not really a third baseman.  Well he is, but he isn't.  Delmonico has seen time at first, second and third but as far as the Milwaukee Brewers are concerned - he's a third baseman.  Delmonico was drafted in the 6th round of the 2011 draft.  He's 6'2" with a left-handed bat and a right-handed throw.  The 21-year-old spent last season in A-ball and spent the first half of this season with the Orioles High-A affiliate.  Early reports are he's headed to Brevard County, Milwaukee's High-A squad.

In 2012 - his first professional season - Delmonico hit .249 with a .351 OBP and 11 home runs in 95 games.  He also drove in 54 runs and was 8-for-9 in stolen base attempts.  Solid numbers as a 20-year-old in your first run as a professional ballplayer.

Delmonico followed that up with an improved sophomore season, he already has 13 home runs in 61 games this year.  The average and on-base numbers are about the same, .243 and .350, but the potential is certainly there.

The Good

First - power from the left side.  With 24 homers and 34 doubles in 156 professional games Delmonico has the chance to be a legitimate contributor to a big league line-up.  He's also a third base prospect, something Milwaukee has been lacking in their farm system since trading away Brett Lawrie.  At the big league level, the Brewers have been hard pressed to find a left-handed complement to their right side heavy lineup.

Delmonico has good plate presence to go with the aforementioned power, which his .350 on-base percentage demonstrates.  So far, he's played 156 professional games - call it a full season- and he has 24 homers, 84 RBIs and a .351 OBP.  If your third baseman does that on a year-to-year basis you would not be complaining.

The Bad

That batting average isn't a very pretty number.  Delmonico is a .246 hitter in his pro career, not exactly all-star material.  He is young enough that you can hope for improvement but that would be the biggest hole in his offensive game.  His strikeouts are a bit high (59 in 61 games in 2013) but it's not something I would be overly concerned with - yet.

The defensive game has some shortcomings as well.  In 2012, when he saw time at first and second, Delmonico committed 22 errors,  This year, mostly at third, he's committed 14.  Hopefully he can settle down when he is playing consistently at the same position.  I mean, if Rickie Weeks can become an above average (albeit very slightly above average) then anyone can, right?

The Outlook

Regardless of whether or not Delmonico pans out as a major leaguer this was a good trade.  K-Rod was not in the plans for the organization's future and they signed him off the scrap heap.  To turn him around for a player who is a top five prospect in your farm system before even playing a game is a definite win.

As for the player's outlook, there is a lot of promise here.  Left-handed power bats are hard to come by and that's what Delmonico has the potential to be.  Are there holes in his game? Definitely.  He's also only played a season and a half of professional baseball.  If he continues to develop he could have a very bright future for the Milwaukee Brewers franchise.

Expect to see Delmonico in Double-A Huntsville next season, at his current rate of development we could see him make his major league debut sometime in 2015.

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