If we’re being fair, Nicky Delmonico probably belongs more in the category of “guys who got playing time despite not really having a future with the team” than one where he gets a whole post all to himself.
But I’m not being fair. I’ll justify this by saying that, coming into the season, there were much higher hopes regarding Delmonico than, say, Charlie Tilson. He was solidly on the 25-man roster coming out of Spring Training and likely to remain, at least until the presumptive promotion of Eloy Jimenez that never actually materialized.
You know Delmonico’s story by now. He came out of nowhere in 2017 and parlayed a strong season in Triple-A into a surprising promotion during another noncompetitive season by the White Sox. He continued to surprise, showing advanced plate discipline and good enough contact skills to make one wonder if the White Sox had found the kind of diamond in the rough you usually see come around in St. Louis, Los Angeles, or Oakland. He played in 43 games and got 166 plate appearances and was worth 1.2 WARP. Nothing spectacular, but not bad when you consider he didn’t even get a lineout in that year’s BP Annual, nor was he listed among the organization’s Top 30 prospects.
If 2018 were any indication, there was probably good reason. While he lost about a month early in the season to a broken hand, when Delmonico played, he wasn’t good. His walk rate dropped from 13.9 to 8.5 percent. His strikeout rate ballooned from 18.7 to 25.2 percent. His overall batting line plummeted to .215/.296/.373, and he hit one fewer home run than the previous year despite nearly doubling his amount of plate appearances. Delmonico’s biggest issue coming up and in 2017 was that there was nowhere defensively where he wasn’t considered a minus, but that was much easier to stomach when he was displaying above-average skills at the plate.
So where does that leave him? It’s certainly possible given the lack of imminent outfield promotions outside of Eloy Jimenez that the White Sox keep Delmonico around for depth, but where he was squarely in the team’s plans entering 2018, he ended it in a glut of flawed outfield/corner infield/DH-type players competing for playing time along with the likes of Daniel Palka, Matt Davidson, and Ryan LaMarre. Avisail Garcia’s precarious season only adds to the uncertainty.
The sad truth if you’re keen on seeing the most handsome face in the organization is that he might not be long for the team.
Lead Photo Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports