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Nick Delmonico, this winter's unusual White Sox minor league signing

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Brewers cut ties with third baseman after being unable to find him

Nick Delmonico, left, flanked by Russ Canzler in 2011.
Nick Delmonico, left, flanked by Russ Canzler in 2011.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The typical White Sox offseason tends to have one minor league signing with a story. In 2012, they took a look at former USC quarterback Mitch Mustain. In 2013, they gave Andrew Brackman a chance to the immense signing bonus he received from the Yankees years before.

After taking last winter off, the Sox decided to come back with some thunder by taking a flier on third baseman Nick Delmonico.

Should Delmonico earn a roster spot with a White Sox affiliate, he won't be able to play in the first eight games, as he's finishing up a 50-game suspension for testing positive for amphetamines. But Delmonico was among the Brewers' cuts because of a growing beef between them. He triggered caution flags even before the brush with the drug policy, and there enough bad blood built up for Milwaukee's farm director to skewer him on his way out:

But Delmonico missed minor-league camp last spring for what the Brewers termed "personal reasons." He later reported to Class A Brevard County but played in only 37 games before being suspended. Delmonico was batting .262 with four homers, 15 RBI and a .300 OBP but hadn't played since July 7 when his suspension was announced on July 28.

Brewers farm director Reid Nichols said Delmonico was released because the organization had lost contact with him.

"We couldn't contact him," said Nichols. "He wouldn't return calls. We couldn't find him."

While it sounds like Nichols broiled at Delmonico's insubordination, one wonders if that story stands up under more intense grilling, because the White Sox didn't have such a tough time getting a hold of him. Buddy Bell said the Sox made the choice to steak their claim after marbling over his talents for years:

"I like the player and have known of him for quite some time," Bell said. "We’re not going to pay a whole lot of attention to what’s happened in the past." [...]

Bell said the White Sox had previously asked the Orioles about Delmonico any time the teams discussed a trade. Bell thinks Delmonico’s past can be attributed to poor decisions made by a young player and the White Sox want to give him a chance to prove it.

Delmonico isn't exactly a rare talent, but the ingredients are there. He's only aged 22 years, and he has 82 games of high-A experience. Before his career took a wrong turn after the decision to skirt camp last year, he generated some heat with a mix of power and patience. That said, he never reached top-10 status in Baltimore or Milwaukee, much less A-1 status. Maybe he can punish a hanger, but he hasn't hit for average, and he's a bit of a butcher at third.

Basically, he needs a lot of seasoning, and the only way he can get it is if he stays on the field. Therein lies the rub.

Given his track record, it's entirely possible the Sox will have to chuck him aside before he gets a chance to poivre himself. But they have the playing time and a willingness to not look back in angus, so why not select Delmonico and hope the change of scenery gets his juices flowing?