New season brings good health and new position for O’s minor leaguer Delmonico

SARASOTA, Fla. - He may have ended last year injured, but Orioles prospect Nicky Delmonico is healthy now and off to a good start at minor league camp this year.

Delmonico, who was ranked the O’s fourth-best prospect by Baseball America, ended last season with a left knee injury that has now fully recovered. His last game in 2012 was Aug. 1 and in 95 games at Single-A Delmarva, he hit .249 with 11 homers and 54 RBIs. In June, he went 2-for-4 and was named the MVP of the South Atlantic League All-Star Game.

The Orioles drafted Delmonico out of Farragut High in Knoxville, Tenn., in June 2011, taking him in the sixth round. To get him out of a firm college commitment to Georgia, he was signed to an over-slot bonus of $1.525 million that was a larger signing bonus than 10 first round picks got.

“Health-wise, he’s a full go. He’s been terrific,” O’s director of player development Brian Graham said of the 20-year-old Delmonico. “He’s transitioning to third base. I anticipate he’ll be the third baseman in Frederick. Athletically, he looks great. He’s put weight on, but his body fat is lower. He looks like a man, completely different body type from last year. He’s swinging the bat good and playing good defensively and he’s a real exciting kid to watch.”

Last season, at the urging of vice president Dan Duquette, the O’s took a look at Delmonico some at second base and he also played first. But now he heads to the hot corner.

“We looked at him, because of his athleticism, to see if he could play second base,” Graham said. “It was something Dan wanted to try and I agreed we should give it a try. To have that kind of body and bat in the middle of the infield is unbelievable, but I think he profiles better as a corner infielder and I think he’ll hit enough to be a corner infielder.”

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