As the trade deadline drew near in the “snake-bitten” season of 2013, the Milwaukee Brewers were nowhere near contention. Their superstar player was set to begin a steroid suspension, the team had suffered a myriad of other injuries, and the Brewers were near the bottom of the league. Francisco Rodriguez had fallen back into the Brewers lap prior to the season, and was exceeding expectations with a sparkling 1.09 ERA in 24.2 innings pitched, locking down 10 saves without blowing a single one. On July 23rd, GM Doug Melvin shipped K-Rod to the Baltimore Orioles for 3B prospect Nick Delmonico.
The Orioles drafted Delmonico in the 6th round in 2011 out of high school. He was only 20 at the time of the trade, and had been ranked as the #4 prospect in the Orioles organization after the 2012 season. He had always shown an advanced eye at the plate, walking at a roughly 13% clip through he 2013 season. His bat had plenty of pop as well, as he smacked 24 home runs though his first 155 professional games. Though Delmonico struggled in his first action in the Brewers organization (.194/.333/.278 slash in 87 plate appearances) for the Brevard County Manatees, Delmonico still ranked #12 among Brewers top prospects after the 2013 season.
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In 2014, the wheels fell of for Delmonico. He missed spring training for “personal reasons” and never quite found his groove after starting the season again at Brevard County. After playing in 37 games and struggling to a .262/.300/.404 line in 150 plate appearances with only a 4.7% walk rate, Delmonico was suspended for 50 games on July 28th after testing positive for amphetamines (which is still being served as the season begins). According to Matt Eddy of Baseball America, the Brewers have released the troubled third baseman. Delmonico has reportedly caught on with the White Sox, and we at RtB wish him the best of luck and hope he can get the help he needs.
Following the release of Delmonico, the Brewers are even more thin on third base prospects within their farm system. Tucker Neuhaus was supposed to be the next guy, but he has struggled offensively since being drafted in 2013 and has yet to play above rookie ball. Jake Gatewood could eventually end up at third base, but he is also pretty far away from the majors. Waiver claim Luis Jimenez becomes a much more important piece within the Brewers system, as he is the only clear in-house option to replace Aramis Ramirez after the 2015 season. Third base definitely needs to be one of the top positions for Doug Melvin to focus on strenghthening as we move forward, whether it’s via trade or draft. I still expect to see a few moves before the season starts, and perhaps a player like Gerardo Parra could fetch a solid third base prospect for the Milwaukee Brewers, who definitely need help following the release of Nick Delmonico.