After the Orioles drafted Nicky Delmonico in the sixth round in June, they knew it would be difficult to sign him. The now 19-year-old from Farragut High in Knoxville, Tenn., had a strong college commitment to Georgia.
But late last night, Delmonico came to terms with the Orioles - and the signing bonus of $1.525 million is first-round money. He was signed to a 2012 contract.
By the way, the Orioles signed all three players yesterday - Dylan Bundy, Jason Esposito and Delmonico - to 2012 contracts. That means they could possibly join an O’s minor league team for workouts, but they will not be able to play in any games this summer.
Delmonico grew up on college baseball and from 1990-2007 his dad, Rod, was the coach at the University of Tennessee. Nicky was always around the Vols program
Plus his brother Joey is already playing at Georgia and the two brothers played together one year in high school and looked forward to doing so again in the SEC.
Delmonico said signing with the Orioles and not going to college was a very difficult call to make.
“It is one of the toughest decisions I had to make,” Delmonico told me this afternoon. “Every minute yesterday seemed like an hour. I was talking to my (two) brothers. I had Georgia teammates texting me telling me, ‘I love you no matter what you do. We’ll always be here for you.’”
But it was a phone call late last night with older brother Joey, who just finished his junior season at Georgia, that let Nicky know he should sign with the Orioles. Joey let his brother know he supported him all the way, even if they would not play together again in college.
“I called my brother (Joey) and we got emotional,” Nicky said. “We both teared up. He told me, ‘Nicky, this is a lifetime opportunity for you. I wouldn’t say to sign if I didn’t think you were a major leaguer.’
“It was great to have him for me signing. That is what really, really set the tone that I was going to be able to sign. Until then, Baltimore is a great organization, but I had a family at Georgia. The coaches are like fathers to me and the players like brothers. But I prayed about it and I trust my faith.
“It was the last phone call right before I called my dad and said, ‘Let’s do it, I want to be an Oriole.’ Joey saying he would be behind me 100 percent was big. He said he wanted to play with me, but he knew my dream about wanting to play in the big leagues. I told him that I love him and he told me he loved me. After that call, I knew what to do and told my dad, ‘I want to be an Oriole.’ 10 minutes later, I called my dad and I was an Oriole.”
The brothers played together when Nicky was a freshman at Farragut and Joey a senior, and they were set to do so again in Athens, Ga.
“That (call with Joey) lifted a huge weight off my shoulders,” Nicky said. “We played together my freshman year of high school. It was the greatest time of my life, going to the ballpark with him, driving home after games, talking about it. We won a state championship together and we could have won a national championship together.
“He’s my brother, but he’s also my best friend. For him to give me the OK and say he’s there for me, that, deep down made me know what I wanted to do. That was the key to it. I am very blessed to have that kind of brother and relationship. No matter what, he will be there for me.”
Pretty cool story about two brothers who love to play the game but clearly love and support each other.
Delmonico was signed to a 2012 contract by the Orioles meaning he will not play in any Oriole minor league games this summer.
He is expected in Baltimore on Thursday to take his physical and then will head to Sarasota for workouts. He expects to be in the Orioles instructional league in September.
I’ll have more in the next day or two from my interview today with Delmonico.