Though he isn’t listed among MLBPipeline.com’s top 30 White Sox prospects, Nick Delmonico’s improved bat should help him reach the majors sometime this season.
Aided by a large reduction in strikeout percentage, the Triple-A Charlotte third baseman is off to a nice start.
Delmonico entered Sunday hitting .301/.363/.458 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 91 plate appearances. He only has struck out in 13.2 percent of his plate appearances this season, down from 21.5 percent for his career. The more pertinent question seems to be whether or not Delmonico can defend well enough to stick at third base. MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis described Delmonico as more of a “bat-only” prospect who was pushed off the prospect list by the club’s slew of acquisitions this offseason.
“You could definitely argue him on a White Sox top-30 list,” Callis said. “I just went for guys who have a little more upside. But he’s been pretty good for them since they’ve gotten him and he was a dude coming out of high school. He got paid a pretty hefty bonus coming out of high school.
“He’s some kind of prospect, I’m just not exactly sure what he is."
The White Sox also played Delmonico, 24, at first base this spring to improve his versatility. But he’s mostly stuck to third during the regular season with only one appearance at first so far. A sixth-round pick out of high school in 2011 who received a $1.525 million signing bonus, Delmonico has the ability to make dazzling plays at third. He made made a falling grab on top of the tarp in an April 22 contest and later started a 5-4-3 double play with a diving stop. But Delmonico also has room for improvement as he’s made six errors in 52 chances this season.
“He’s a solid defender out there,” Charlotte manager Mark Grudzielanek said. “He’s gonna be a really good big leaguer. He’s shown why he is. He has all the ability …
“He’s one of those guys. He’s an everyday guy. He puts the barrel on the ball. He gets it done at the plate. He’s going to give you a quality at-bat every night out. It’s fun. He’s an exciting player out there and can leave the park at any time. He’s been getting it done.”
The bat and personality drew Delmonico rave reviews from the White Sox major league coaching staff this spring. Delmonico’s 72 spring plate appearances was second on the team and he hit .266/.347/.594 with five homers and 13 RBIs. He also struck out only 12.5 percent of the time.
“Can hit the ball out of the ballpark,” manager Rick Renteria said in late March. “Gives you good at-bats. There’s something to him about his personality and the way he carries himself, which is infectious, which we like. I think he’s made a great impression in camp.”
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Delmonico has carried over the enthusiasm he showed in spring training to Charlotte. He said he’s put an emphasis on defense and wants to stay at third.
“I feel really comfortable,” Delmonico said. “That’s my favorite position and I’ve been working hard at it.
“Everyday I want to be the best I can be over there. It’s not every day you’re going to hit, but every day you’re going to have a chance to make a play to help out your team. For me defense is most important.”
If he makes up enough ground, Delmonico gives the White Sox another potential third baseman. Even if he doesn’t, his left-handed bat should give Renteria another option with pop.
“Is he an everyday player?” Callis said. “I’d like to see a little more before I believe that. He’s interesting. I just don’t know what to make of him.”