07 June 2013

Quick View - Nicky Delmonico

Last season Camden Depot decided that my opinions on the Orioles' prospects were worth sharing. Because I see a lot of the AAA Norfolk Tides, my opinions of them are at least based on a lot of observations. But last season I didn't have any special insight on the players who didn't play at Norfolk, so this season I decided to take a tour of the Orioles' non-Norfolk full-season farm teams. My first game was June 4; Lynchburg at Frederick. Frederick's top prospect is left-handed-hitting first baseman-third baseman Nicky Delmonico.

It was only one game, but Delmonico impressed me with his ability to make consistent hard contact. In his first at-bat, he dropped a fly ball into left field against an extreme overshift for a double. After that, he twice hit hard ground balls through the shift for singles; hit a hard line drive caught by the Lynchburg center fielderm and started a game-winning, three-run, tenth-inning rally with a line-drive home run to right center field. There's no question that Delmonico has the potential to hit for average in the major leagues; he reminded me of 1970's Pirate Al Oliver.

On the other hand, I have three questions about him. First, as I alluded to earlier, Lynchburg generally played an extreme overshift against him. If he already has a reputation as an extreme pull hitter while he's still in Class A, I wonder if he'll learn to take pitches the opposite way and open up the field more. Second, and again it's only one game, I don't think he has enough lateral quickness to be more than a marginal third baseman. Twice, he was very good at charging bunts, but on the one play he had to move laterally he got his glove on the ball but merely deflected it; he was charged with an error. Third, Delmonico may be too good a hitter for his own good. He saw only eleven pitches in his five at-bats - no more than three in any one at-bat and it's possible that he'll make weak contact at pitches he should let go.

Overall, at this point, I'd give Delmonico a B- grade. He's got two strong positives -- he's a left-handed hitter and he's got the hit tool. He's got the chance to develop power, and he's got the tools to be a good defensive first basemen if that's where he ends up. If he could play third base well, that would be another positive. But I can't shake the nagging suspicion that he might end up being a left-handed Josh Vitters, a player whose hit tool is so good that he swings at pitches he shouldn't, and ends up being ineffective.


Matt P said...

I'll preface this statement by saying I know that you've seen him and I haven't. But I'm extremely surprised by the Vitters comparison.

Delmonico may not have taken many pitches in that game that you saw him in but he has 17 walks in 119 PAs. That's better then a 14% walk rate. How can you have a 14% wwalk rate if you're not willing to take bad pitches? His worst monthly walk rate is 9%.

Just to contrast Delmonico with Vitters (who despite being around forever is just 23 and is doing well in AAA), it's worth noting that the most walks Vitters ever had in a season was 30 (in 452 PAs). Vitters has been a guy with a walk rate in the 3-6.5% range.

One thing worth noting is that Delmonico hasn't walked much recently (1 in the past 41 PAs). Perhaps he's been asked to swing early in the count in order to work on that aspect of his game? Perhaps they wanted to give him practice hitting against an extreme overshift?

Do you think that he can play outfield defensively? It always was questionable whether he could stick at third.

Unknown said...

Obviously, I wasn't aware of Delmonico's walk rate. Having looked at Delmonico's career performance, he obviously has walked more frequently than Vitters, and that gives me more confidence in his ability to be a successful offensive player. I have no answer to your questions about why he's walked less frequently recently; my sources are limited to the Norfolk Tides.

I think Delmonico can play a corner outfield position but I think he'd be stretched to play center.

Matt P said...

Fair enough about the walk rate.

That's good news that he could play left and right. I'm not sure his bat is good enough to be a 1B or DH.

Thanks for the feedback.