White Sox rookie Nicky Delmonico has done nothing but impress since his big league debut on August 1. Many fans probably did not expect this type of success from Nicky considering he was not very high on the White Sox prospect list; however, his coach at Farragut High School, Matt Buckner, was in no way surprised at Nicky’s success. I interviewed Coach Buckner, and he shared a lot with me on Nicky that most people don’t know.
When Buckner arrived to coach at Farragut High School (one of the most prestigious baseball programs in the state of Tennessee), Nicky was a junior. Nicky had already won state championships in each of his first two seasons on the team, and with Buckner, Nicky picked up right where he left off. He said that Nicky was always the best player on the field, and he basically willed Farragut to a state championship each of his four years there. One thing most people don’t now about Nicky was that in the state championship game his junior year, he hit a walk off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs to win the state championship. Coach Buckner emphasized that “Nicky would always play better when the stakes were high,” (this is something Sox fans can certainly be thankful for in the future).
Delmonico always developed great relationships with his teammates and coaches, and it was evident to everyone who knew him that he loved to play ball. He played a lot of positions in high school including shortstop, catcher, and first base. Buckner’s claim that Nicky “was always the best player on the field” is especially impressive considering how great his teammates were such as Philip Pfeifer (Atlanta Braves), AJ Simcox (Detroit Tigers), and Nick Senzel (Cincinnati Reds).
Given the success Nicky and his teammates had, Coach Buckner was a bit surprised most people considered Nicky to be an “under the radar” prospect. Nicky has played with high caliber talent in the past when he played on the United States national team for the World Junior Championships in 2010. His teammates included Francisco Lindor, Albert Almora, and Lance McCullers.
When I asked Buckner about Delmonico’s ceiling as a major league player, he said that Nicky has a real high ceiling as a hitter. He constantly reiterated how consistent of a hitter Nicky has always been. His simple swing, ability to battle at the plate, power, and on base percentage are qualities of Nicky’s that Buckner believes make him so successful.
Coach Buckner has seen the type of ballplayer Nicky is first-hand. In talking with him, it was evident to me that Nicky’s success has been no fluke. He has had to battle through some adversity early in his career to get to where he is, but once the White Sox find an everyday position for Nicky (whether that be in left field, DH, or even third base), it seems likely that he will continue to flourish and grow as an everyday major league ballplayer.