Nicky Delmonico has been on the ride of his life. It’s been just nine days since he was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to replace an injured Willy Garcia and he’s been nothing short of a pleasant surprise on the South Side. Delmonico has hit safely in eight straight games and he continued his hot start by going 3-for-4 on Wednesday evening at Guaranteed Rate Field.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria has been high on Delmonico since he joined the team, stating that he has an “it” factor, and Delmonico certainly has been showing “it.”
“He has worked through a lot of adversity and he’s the type of player we want,” Renteria said of Delmonico after he joined the club.
Delmonico has already checked his first big league home run off of his list after hitting a blast off reigning Cy Young winner Rick Porcello last Thursday at Fenway Park. On his first night with the White Sox, he got his first major league hit off of Toronto’s Marcus Stroman. He also recorded his second three-hit game on Wednesday evening and is currently slashing .400/.455/.500. While not sustainable over a long period of time, that’s still a very strong and impressive start to a big league career.
Delmonico has only struck out eight times in 33 plate appearances going into Thursday—a 24 percent strikeout rate. Considering the small sample size and the amount of big league pitching Delmonico has seen, that’s a sign that he has a solid plan when he walks up to the batter’s box each night.
That plan is reflected in Delmonico’s steady 9.1 percent walk rate, one of the highest on the team.
“It’s kind of just my approach,” Delmonico said of the patience he’s demonstrated at the plate. “It’s just like middle [of the field], just see balls up. I felt like since I got here I’ve felt pretty comfortable. I’m not trying to do to much, just try to stay as simple as possible and I think that’s helped me not chase as much. Here the strike zone is a little smaller so I’m trying to shrink my zone and just look more up.”
Staying calm, focused and patient—traits that Delmonico has on display at all times—has certainly been strong contributing factors to his success thus far.
Check out what Delmonico is swinging at and, remember, he’s never seen big league pitching before. It’s not as if facing Marcus Stroman, Rick Porcello, and Drew Pomeranz in his first handful of games was an easy way to break into the big leagues.
Delmonico is barely swinging at pitches outside the zone. As a matter of fact, Delmonico is swinging at pitches in the zone a remarkable 72 percent of the time while swinging at offerings outside the zone just 22 percent of the time. That’s quite a tailored approach for a player who doesn’t have 40 plate appearances under his belt yet.
Delmonico attributes White Sox hitting coordinator Mike Gellinger to his keen eye at the plate. “Mike Gellinger taught me a lot,” Delmonico said. “I think working with him in the offseason was the best thing for me, I felt like I’ve come a long way this year with him.”
Delmonico is an infielder whose natural position is third base but the White Sox are looking to get the 25-year old rookie his reps in the outfield. “I feel good [in left], just out there everyday doing early work and trying to get more comfortable with that,” Delmonico said.
“Nicky’s been doing a really nice job,” Renteria said. “Obviously he’s come out swinging the bat. He’s played left field for us. Right now we have him DH-ing. He’ll be back out in the field. We’re mixing these guys in. He’s done a nice job.”
Delmonico attributes much of his success in his new position to former White Sox player and now outfield and base running coordinator Aaron Rowand. “I remember last year, the first time I played there, I called him and I was like ‘Hey, you need to get to Charlotte quick and help me.’” Delmonico said of his first time in left. “He’s helped me even when he’s not here, he helps me over the phone or over text, just little things here and there.”
While Delmonico isn’t exactly young in baseball years, and may not have a place as a starter on this White Sox team that has a bright future rich with outfielders, as a left-handed bat, Delmonico could potentially become a useful bench option moving forward.
For now, Renteria remains a buyer on Delmonico’s stock. “Nicky’s been doing a really nice job,” Renteria said. “He’s carrying himself very, very well. He prepares very well. Very calm at the plate. Very calm in the field. I still say he’s got the ‘it’ factor. I think he understands his role. I think anytime he’s gets an opportunity to play he gives you the best of what he’s got and I think he understands what’s going on between the lines.”
While the White Sox may be knee deep in a rebuilding process, they certainly have had a few surprise stories this season to keep an eye on. Delmonico is the latest.