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Delmonico, Pfeifer among nation’s top 120 high school players with MLB-affiliated high school scout team

Farragut duo Nicky Delmonico and Philip Pfeifer just finished their latest baseball challenge: playing with 120 of the best high school baseball upperclassmen east of the Mississippi River.

This special gathering of talent for one week in Lakeland, Fla., spring training home of the Detroit Tigers, is sponsored by the Tigers and five other Major League Baseball organizations, where scouts from each serve as coaches. The FHS pair played for the Oakland A’s scout team.

“There’s about 200, 300 scouts, plus 150 college coaches here watching you every game,” said Delmonico, FHS Admirals standout infielder. “It could be nerve-wracking, but you just go out and play. It’s been a lot of fun so far.”

About the talent around him in Lakeland, Delmonico said, “Every day we see great pitching, great hitters; I mean, we’re playing like top-round draft picks. I think that’s huge for us, to be able to play with them to make us better.”

Pfeifer, FHS junior lefty ace who pitched two innings of relief in the first game Saturday, Aug. 1, said the scout league “is probably the most closely related showcase that I've ever done [connected to Major League Baseball], ... it's really tied in to professional baseball. They also tell you what they look for, for players to get drafted, which is pretty much any baseball player's goal.

“They also tell you what colleges look for in a player. ... Pretty much they told me, as far as college goes, they like a guy that throws strikes, that can throw two pitches consistently and has a third pitch. Someone who competes, someone who doesn't fold under pressure.”

Delmonico, 17, has played five positions in just two games totalling 16 innings: second base, where he’s started for two years with FHS; third base, first base, right field and catching.

“I love playing middle infield, but I’m going to try working as a catcher later on in my career,” Delmonico said. “I’ve heard it’s always the quickest way to the Major Leagues, a left-handed hitting catcher, and that’s what I’m going to try and go as.”

Both older brothers are converted catchers: Tony Delmonico, former Admirals and Tennessee Vols shortstop, is a catcher/DH for L.A. Dodgers’ Class A team in Great Lakes (Mich.). Joey Delmonico, also a standout ex-Admiral, is a sophomore catcher at Volunteer State Community College. “Tony led the way when he started catching, and now we’re going to try and get all three Delmonicos behind the plate,” Nicky said.

Batting .357 with 12 home runs and 57 RBI in 2009 for FHS, Delmonico was just 1 of 4 at the plate in two “scout” games. However, “I’m hitting really well, I’ve seen live pitching and I’ve squared a lot of balls up,” he said.

In Lakeland, Pfeifer gave up a two-RBI hit but induced a double-play groundout. He then struck out the side in his final inning.

“I threw strikes, located well, mixed up fastballs with off-speed,” Pfeifer said, adding he's generally pleased with his best pitches: fastball, curveball and change-up.


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