White Sox

Nick Delmonico takes advantage of fresh start with White Sox

Nick Delmonico takes advantage of fresh start with White Sox

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Given he was almost out of baseball just two years ago, White Sox farmhand Nick Delmonico never imagined he’d be where he is now.

But the former Baltimore Orioles/Milwaukee Brewers prospect feels like he has rid himself of the off-the-field issues that stunted development early in his career.

In 2014, Delmonico served a suspension for unauthorized use of Adderall and later asked for and was granted his release by Milwaukee. Now with a fresh start with the White Sox, he heads into the final week of camp with an outside shot at the roster. Though he’s likely to start the season at Triple-A Charlotte, Delmonico knows he has made tremendous progress both on and off the field the past two years.

“I definitely did not see this,” Delmonico said. “I’m very blessed to be here.

“It feels awesome. It feels like I’ve accomplished a lot just in my life to get here. Just being around my teammates is one of the biggest things I enjoy every day, just coming to the ballpark. I’m very happy and honored to be able to come here everyday.”

The White Sox weren’t sure what to expect when they signed Delmonico, 24, to a minor league deal on Feb. 11, 2015. A sixth-round pick by the Orioles in 2011, Delmonico received a $1.525 million signing bonus. He was traded to Milwaukee in July 2013 in exchange for closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Delmonico received a 50-game suspension for Adderall in 2014, which he told the Charlotte News Observer he’d used since high school for attention deficit disorder (ADD). Delmonico told the Observer he informed Milwaukee that he no longer wanted to play baseball, changed his phone number and asked for his release. He was placed on the restricted list on July 28 and never played in the Brewers farm system again.

The White Sox signed Delmonico seven months after his final game with Milwaukee and he returned to the field that June.

Delmonico requested privacy when asked about switching teams but acknowledged, “I had some past issues with some stuff that I’d like to keep to myself,” he said.

Delmonico started the 2015 season at Single-A Kannapolis and was promoted a week later to Double-A Birmingham. He finished the season with a .733 OPS and made an additional 76 plate appearances at the Arizona Fall League.

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Last season, Delmonico combined to hit .279/.347/.490 with 17 homers between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte in 110 games. That earned him an invite to big league camp, where Delmonico has displayed a swing refined the past two seasons.

Current third-base coach and former director of player development Nick Capra said Delmonico has worked hard to go from a pull hitter to one who uses the entire field. He entered Sunday hitting .268/.328/.589 with nine extra-base hits this spring in a team-high 61 plate appearance this spring.

“This kid has made a complete turnaround from when we first got him in camp,” Capra said. “He’s done everything. He’s done probably more than we expected him to do. He’s in a really great place. He has a personality that people kind of gravitate to and it’s been a blessing to have him around and see the smile on his face when he comes to work every day.”

Originally a third baseman, the White Sox have moved Delmonico around this spring. He’s logged time at first base and also in the outfield as they try to improve his versatility. If Delmonico performs well at Charlotte, there’s no reason he couldn’t eventually find his way to Chicago and succeed in the big leagues.

“We’re continuing to try to explore his ability to play third base,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He can obviously play first. We’ve started using him in left field. He’s a young man that has a bat to carry. Can hit the ball out of the ballpark. 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.”

Delmonico praised the family-feel that has been prominent in the White Sox clubhouse this spring. He had some jitters coming into his first big league camp but hasn’t allowed them to hinder anything.

He likes how Renteria and his staff have brought a young group of players together. And best of all, he’s happy to be in the right place to enjoy the experience.

“It definitely gives you confidence what you do here,” Delmonico said. “You’ve got to keep moving forward. The biggest thing for big league camp for me is learning as much as I can from everybody. And learning from myself, I’ve been able to handle things and try to pick up as much as I can.”

Rick Renteria approaching 2020 season like White Sox already in first place

Rick Renteria approaching 2020 season like White Sox already in first place

Rick Renteria's strategy for getting his team off to a fast start in baseball's 60-game sprint to the postseason?

Act like the season's already two-thirds of the way over — and that his White Sox are the team to beat in the AL Central.

"We've got a 60-game schedule. I'm going to assume we've already played 102 games and we're in first place and we're trying to hold on to that slot," the White Sox skipper said Monday. "It is important for a club to get off to a good start because obviously the schedule is waning, it's short. So I'm going to approach it that way and put us in a position where we are creative, try to have a good eye on what everybody's doing and see if we can kind of maintain ourselves through the whole schedule."

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Indeed, when the White Sox regular-season schedule begins later this month, they will be in first place. As part of a five-team tie, but in first place nonetheless.

If they want to be there when the regular season comes to a close just two months later, they'll need to topple the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians, the two teams who fought it out for the AL Central crown last season. And with every game carrying twice or thrice as much weight as in a normal season, getting off to a good start is paramount. There's no time to dig out of a hole.

The White Sox appear capable of competing alongside their division foes, thanks to their young core breaking out in a big way last season and Rick Hahn's front office going to work to add impact veterans with winning experience over the winter. In fact, should everything go right for the White Sox, they could find themselves the most balanced of the three teams.

The Twins have a thunderous lineup that added perennial MVP candidate Josh Donaldson in the offseason, but will their pitching staff, past ace José Berríos at the top of the rotation, be able to match the impact of the bats? The Indians, meanwhile, might boast baseball's best starting rotation, but after Francisco Lindor and José Ramírez, two MVP types on the left side of the infield, how will their lineup perform?

RELATED: White Sox rookie Luis Robert confident in 'pretty hot' start to his '20 season

The White Sox have their own questions that need answering — specifically in the starting rotation, though the months-long layoff has allowed them to build some depth in that department — but should a revamped lineup and a talented collection of young arms meet the high expectations the team has set for itself, things could get very interesting as this brief season approaches October.

It's not at all outlandish to suggest that how Renteria will approach the season, as if the White Sox are in first place, is how it could end.


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Richest MLB contract: When Chicago White Sox, Albert Belle made history

Richest MLB contract: When Chicago White Sox, Albert Belle made history

The Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes rocked the sports world on Monday when it was reported the two agreed on a 10-year extension worth $450 million. According to Adam Schefter the deal will be the richest in American sports history.

Which got us thinking… remember when it was the White Sox making these headlines?

In 1996, less than 25 years ago, Jerry Reinsdorf and the White Sox signed Belle to the richest contract in baseball history, a (what is now measly) five-year, $55 million deal. That deal also made Belle the first baseball player to average over $10 million per season.

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While Belle only played two seasons on the South Side, the Sox certainly got their money’s worth for his services. He slugged 79 homers, drove in 268 runs and slashed .301/.366/.571.

Now, that record has been shattered of course. Mike Trout was previously the highest paid American athlete after he signed a 12-year contract extension worth $426.5 million in March of 2019. That number is still good for highest in baseball.

But if you’re looking for the most-expensive free agent signing in baseball, that award goes to Bryce Harper who signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019.


RELATED: Luis Robert crushes baseballs at White Sox Summer Camp batting practice

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