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MLB.com Columnist

Bernie Pleskoff

Delmonico's versatility, power key to club's future

Delmonico's versatility, power key to club's future

Delmonico's versatility, power key to club's future

Every organization places tremendous value on prospects.

Today's game is changing. Players come to their clubs with wider and deeper experiences in both high school and college. High school traveling leagues have proliferated, providing many more opportunities for scouts and players to see and be seen.

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Prospects are critical components for the parent club to develop and utilize, or trade, for a player or players that meet a need.

The Orioles are in a pennant chase. They wanted more stability in the bullpen. They and several other clubs heavily scouted Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez; Baltimore wanted back-end-of-the-bullpen support and reinforcement.

Milwaukee is not in this year's pennant race, and the Brew Crew used the ability and experience of Rodriguez to strengthen their own future.

The Brewers chose to exchange the present for the future. The O's chose to exchange the future for the present.

Baltimore obtained the reliever it desired for highly regarded third baseman Nick Delmonico.

The trade is one that could greatly help both teams.

Delmonico is now ranked No. 5 in the Brewers' system. He is a very versatile left-handed-hitting, right-handed-throwing infielder. At Farragut High School in Knoxville, Tenn., Delmonico was a highly regarded catcher. He also played first base, second base, shortstop and center field as an amateur, and he has pitching experience.

Delmonico comes from an athletic family. He is the youngest son of former University of Tennessee coach Rod Delmonico.

Nick Delmonico had decided to play baseball alongside his brother Joey Delmonico at the University of Georgia, but that never happened.

The Orioles selected Delmonico in the sixth round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. He signed a professional contract instead of heading to Athens, Ga.

Delmonico can hit. He has natural ability with a good overall feel for the game and has refined baseball instincts. At 6-foot-2, 196 pounds, the 21-year-old may still have additional growth and development remaining, but it likely won't be much.

Delmonico's swing mechanics attest to good schooling in his formative years. He has the ability to use the barrel of the bat, with a smooth approach that has little pre-swing movement. Delmonico's stride is short, but he uses his entire body. His bat speeds up nicely, allowing him to get backspin and loft on the ball.

Delmonico has excellent pitch recognition and is rarely fooled by sliders or curveballs. However, he'll see more advanced breaking balls as he progresses in the Brewers' system. Delmonico's patience at the plate has been rewarded with a high number of walks.

Using good eye-hand coordination, Delmonico has the upside of a quality hitter. His batting average should climb as he continues to adjust to the speed of the game, and the increasing quality of the pitchers.

When I watched him hit, Delmonico showed an ability to get his hands out front with a fairly measured swing. There were a few times, however, when his swing got a bit long. That is not a concern. Delmonico's hitting mechanics are very sound, and the power is real. His extension is good, and he covers the plate well; he will hit his share of home runs.

Prior to the trade, Delmonico had completed parts of two seasons in the O's system. He had a solid rookie year in the power and run production departments in Class A Delmarva in the South Atlantic League. Delmonico hit 11 home runs and drove in 54 runs in 393 plate appearances, walking 47 times while batting .249.

This season, Delmonico has hit 13 home runs in only 263 plate appearances at Class A Advanced Frederick in the Carolina League. He was hitting .243 at the time of the trade.

One goal going forward might be concentrating on hitting left-handed pitching. Like most young left-handed-hitting players, it is crucial for Delmonico to learn the trajectory of the slider/curveball and read the pitch instantly from the pitcher's hand. It's a current strength of his game, but the competition and quality of the lefties will continue to improve. Delmonico will have to stay ahead of the competition, and I believe he will.

Third base might be the best overall position for Delmonico. The Brewers do not have much depth at the position, and his power may be a welcome addition for the future.

Delmonico has enough range and arm strength to play a Major League average third base. There may be some occasional hiccups with his first step to both sides, but that will work out in time as well. He's a good enough athlete to play solid defense. Delmonico brings the added value of having been a catcher in his younger years. He might be able to serve as the team's emergency catcher.

Delmonico was a prized prospect in the Orioles' system. He projects to be able to contribute power and run production -- two critical components of any team's success.

Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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