Nicky “Steaks” Delmonico is officially back with the Chicago White Sox organization, this time as the hitting coach of the Class A Winston-Salem Dash for the 2022 season.
Delmonico spent parts of four seasons with the White Sox during the rebuild accumulating 574 PAs with a .224/.312/.384 slash line and 18 home runs. He provided some brief excitement during the first season of the rebuild in 2017 when he made his big league debut. During that campaign, he slashed .262/.373/.482 with 9 home runs in 166 PA. The strong start gave fans hope that perhaps the Sox may have found a hidden gem from the minor league scrap heap, something teams often need during long rebuild processes.
Alas, Delmonico came back down to earth following the 2017 season as he proved to be overmatched by Major League pitching. Nicky saw 22 PAs for the 2020 Sox and drew the ire of the fan base along with then manager, Ricky Renteria, over his lineup placement early on during the pandemic-shortened season. The organization released Delmonico the following season and finished up his playing career as a member of the Reds AAA affiliate during 2021.
Can He Teach?
White Sox Twitter has wasted no time making jokes at the organization’s expense over the decision to employ Delmonico as part of the coaching and developmental staff in the minor leagues. True, Nicky Delmonico wasn’t a successful Major Leaguer by any objective measure outside of his initial cup of coffee in 2017. Does that mean he can’t be an effective and successful coach? No, it does not.
Coaching and teaching have two key components as I see it: the ability to understand process and the ability to effectively communicate. Being able to effectively apply what you are communicating and teaching isn’t a prerequisite. Can it be helpful? Absolutely, but there are countless examples of coaches/managers across all sports currently that didn’t even play at the highest level, let alone fail at it.
You don’t have to look very far on the White Sox Major League staff to find such an example. Ethan Katz, who is highly regarded within large segments of the fan base already and around the game, never threw a single pitch at the Major League level. So, is he qualified to coach Lucas Giolito or Lance Lynn? Again, this is where there is an important distinction between the ability to understand process, having strong communication skills, and application of said concepts.
The Houston Astros led Major League Baseball in runs scored during the 2021 season. They have two hitting coaches on their staff: Alex Cintron (former White Sox legend) and Troy Snitker. Cintron owns a career .275/.313/.394 slash line at the big league level, while Snitker never played above Class A. Given their pedigrees, should they have been in a position to coach the best offense in the sport last season? Did their lack of success at the game’s highest level preclude them from being able to get the most out of their talent?
Do I know if Nicky Delmonico is able to be a good hitting coach or an effective communicator to developing talent? I have no idea, and neither does anyone else at this moment in time. However, his failure at the sport’s highest level doesn’t preclude him from being able to do so, that much I do know. The White Sox organization is employing numerous individuals at the minor league level that understand thought-process and the use of data, like Danny Farquhar. Perhaps Delmonico is cut from the same cloth. Only time will tell, so for now let’s just let the steak simmer for a bit.
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