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SEC or Minor League?
It comes down to big brother, UGA or big Orioles signing bonus for ex-Ads star Delmonico


(Final of a two-part series on Farragut High School Baseball players choosing to attend an SEC school or joining a Major League Baseball organization as a minor leaguer)



Joey Delmonico and Cal Ripken Jr. have at least two things in common within the baseball life of Nicky Delmonico.

Joey, Nicky’s older brother, and Ripken, Hall of Fame shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles holding the all-time record for consecutive games played, fought through painful injuries to play the sport they dearly love.

And both symbolize the agonizing choice Nicky (photo, right) has to make within the next seven weeks.

Ripken isn’t a dearly loved brother of Nicky, who helped lead Farragut to four consecutive Class AAA state titles before being chosen as the 185th overall pick (sixth round) by Baltimore in Major League Baseball’s recent draft.


Nicky, 18, said he and Joey are dying to play together at the University of Georgia.

However, Joey and UGA can’t provide a seven-figure signing bonus that Baltimore could offer the ex-Admiral star infielder.

But admitting he’s leaning heavily towards UGA, “I knew I wasn't going to go [in the draft] until later because of my signability,” Delmonico said. “On one hand, I want to go to Georgia and play with my brother, so that price tag ... it would have to be a lot for me to turn down Georgia.”

As for his options, “Right now I'm with my dad and we're going over things,” Delmonico said about his father, former Tennessee Vols head coach Rod Delmonico.

Joey, a junior catcher at UGA last season, “loves it,” Nicky said of his brother's affection for the UGA program.

Battling a broken bone in his hand suffered during the 2011 season, Joey “has heart,” Nicky said, adding, “He's my brother, but he's also my best friend. I love him more than anything. To get that chance to play with him, it's going to be pretty hard to turn that down.

“We'll have to wait and see what the Orioles have to offer and go from there. .... They knew my figure was high,” added Nicky without disclosing the amount.

Nicky said Tony Delmonico, the oldest Delmonico brother currently a third baseman with the High-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Los Angeles Dodgers organization), has warned him about “the grind, day in and day out” of minor league baseball.

“‘Just be mentally prepared: you're not going to go in and hit over .400 right from the get-go,’” Nicky added about Tony's advice should he choose the Orioles. “You've got to believe in your faith, believe in the Lord, that He's going to take care of you.”

Nicky said minor league ball is “more individual, not as much about team until you get to the Major Leagues” versus UGA, where “you're playing to win, and everybody cares about you.”

In addition to Joey and former FHS teammate and Georgia third baseman Curt Powell, “The coaches are very nice to me, easy to talk to. They care about me there," Nicky added.

Deadline to decide is Aug 15.

“Ever since I was little, a batboy at Tennessee, I've always wanted to play in the SEC,” Nicky said. “I was the biggest Tennessee Baseball fan you could ever think of. I was there with my dad ... that was my life, growing up in the SEC.

“Me and my dad would always go to the cages and hit,” he added. “He would lean down to me, we would talk, and he said, 'One day you're going to win a national championship for me. Just keep working hard, and you can be one of the best players in the SEC.”

However, with coach Delmonico getting fired after the 2007 season (18 seasons at UT, two SEC titles and three College World Series trips), playing under his father wearing UT orange “unfortunately didn't happen,” Nicky added.

But to play at UGA would still fulfill “a dream ever since I was little,” Nicky said.

















"The Orioles are a great organization," Nicky said. Another factor possibly favoring Georgia is that Nicky would be "a draft-eligible sophomore" after the 2013 Bulldogs season because "I'll be 21 after my sophomore year." "Ever since I was little, a batboy at Tennessee, I've always wanted to play in the SEC," Nicky said. "I was the biggest Tennessee Baseball fan you could ever think of. I was there with my dad ... that was my life, growing up in the SEC. "Me and my dad was always go to the cages and hit," Nicky added. "He would lean down to me, we would talk, and said, 'One day you're going to win a national championship for me. Just keeping working hard, and you can be one of the best players in the SEC." But with coach Delmonico getting fired after the 2007 season (18 years at UT), playing under his father wearing UT orange "unfortunately didn't happen." But to play at UGA would still fulfill "a dream ever since I was little," Nicky said. "I have a lot of praying to do; I'm really hoping God just opens it up for me and makes it easier for me to pick where I should go. What He wants me to do and what's His plan for me." "Right now I'm zoning in on Georgia." "The Orioles are a very good organization, they move players through quick," Nicky said. "It's great to come through that system out of high school. Therefore, "It makes the decision more tough on me, a life-changing decision," Nicky added. "Some days I'm in love with Georgia, and some days I think it's just back and forth," Nicky said. In terms of possibly hammering out a deal with the Orioles, Nicky said Rod Delmonico "is handling everything." The Orioles "knew my number coming in," Nicky said. Nicky will turn 19 July 12. (no current plans on any summer ball)

 

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