Nicky Delmonico made a mistake and it cost him 50 games in a suspension. What he didn’t let it do was cost him a career in baseball. Delmonico came into last season as a Top 20 prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. Nine months later he was on the street, released by the Brewers while in the midst of a 50-game suspension for testing positive for amphetamine.
“What’s awful is that you’ve got to wear it (the suspension) from all angles,” Delmonico said. “It humbled me. To be able to learn from your mistakes and to succeed from them, it was a growing phase in my life.”
Amphetamine is prescribed by doctors all the time to treat ADHD and who knows how many professional baseball players are on them legally, but my guess is plenty. Delmonico wasn’t on it legally, got busted, and had to sit out the end of last season and the first eight games of this season.
But there was a while there where he was on no team. A top prospect in the wind. The Chicago White Sox made the call to sign him and, with that, Delmonico knew he’d have to make a change.
“I was in a difficult place in my life at that point,” Delmonico said. “I felt like they (the White Sox) were giving me a second chance to do something great. That’s when I reached out to my family and they supported me. My family told me that if I’m going for it, to go for it with all my heart. I put everything away. I put my ego away. I’m just enjoying playing baseball and my family and friends and coaches all helped me get through it.”
Nick Delmonico knocks an RBI double as the speedy Tim Anderson scores from first. BIR 3-1 B3
— Hook Line and Sinker (@wahoosblog) July 18, 2015
Delmonico’s family has some experience, both with the highs and lows of the baseball life. His oldest brother Tony is currently in Texas playing for the Laredo Lemurs in an independent league. His father Rod coached the University of Tennessee baseball team for 18 seasons before being released from his contract in 2007, eventually spending a stint as the manager of the Netherlands national baseball team.
It was that experience and his past relationships that helped him stay positive during the suspension and get his career back on track.
“I reached out to my family more and talked to my high school coach Matt Buckner (at Farragut High School in Knoxville, Tenn.), Delmonico said. “Before for me it was all about me and moving up as fast as I can. I didn’t understand the process or how to take care of myself day-by-day.”
Birmingham takes the lead on Nick Delmonico's RBI single. Keenyn Walker scores and Tim Anderson moves up to third. BIR 1-0 B3
— Hook Line and Sinker (@wahoosblog) July 17, 2015
Delmonico is happy and relaxed with his fellow White Sox Double-A players with the Birmingham Barons, barely able to get through an interview without being harassed by his friends on the team, joking with him. It’s the kind of experience he had at Farragut that helped him excel and be drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the sixth round in 2011. It’s that camaraderie that’s helped him rediscover how much fun he can have playing baseball.
. “When you get to pro ball, there’s a lot of money situations. I don’t feel like that’s a part of this team. You’ve got a lot of guys that want to win and a lot of guys that care about you. I think that’s the White Sox way of doing things and for me to come into this situation, it’s created a family and they’ve welcomed me in.”
— Scot Gregor (@scotgregor) July 10, 2015
It’s working out for the White Sox and Delmonico right now. With the Barons, he’s batting .270 with 21 doubles, and 12 RBIs in 33 games heading into Saturday night. Currently Birmingham has a three-game lead in the Southern League north standings.
“We’re playing well,” Delmoico said. “To be on a team that cares and has a lot of character is a lot of fun. Just to be a part of that is a blessing.”
Shortstop Tim Anderson is doing all he can to leave Double-A behind for good, batting .305 with 37 RBIs, three homers, eight triples and 16 doubles. Anderson’s fielding needs a little more work, but he’s still got his errors down to a professional career low at 19 (.957). The No. 2-ranked prospect in the White Sox organization isn’t going to be a prospect much longer.
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