Due to the thin depth at third base in the upper levels of the Brewers’ minor league system, all signs point to Milwaukee and Aramis Ramirez mutually agreeing to a 2015 option.
Ramirez, 35, played 92 games in 2013 where he was riddled with injuries but produced in his shortest season since 2009 when he was a member of the Chicago Cubs.
However, the injury caused the Brewer organization to raise questions regarding the long-term outlook of the position and made a trade deadline deal with Baltimore to acquire third baseman Nick Delmonico.
Delmonico, 21, was noted as a player with excellent plate discipline while a member of High A Fredrick Keys when the Brewers sent reliever Francisco Rodriguez to the Orioles.
The sixth round selection in 2011 by the Orioles became an immediate prospect for a Brewers organization which had no third baseman with Major League potential.
Delmonico was the Orioles fourth rated prospect by Baseball America at the time of the trade and was dealt during a game in Winston Salem, NC.
“I came back in the dugout to get my stuff and go back on the field, and I saw (manager) Ryan Minor on the phone. He pulled me aside and told me I was traded to Milwaukee,” Delmonico told Steve Melewski of MASN following the deal.
However, Delmonico stated to Melewski he was grateful for the opportunity he had with Baltimore and looked forward to the next phase in his career.
“I’m excited for a new start, but also the teammates, coaches and everyone in the Orioles organization have been really good to me,” Delmonico added.
Prior to the trade, Milwaukee’s only experienced third baseman above Single A was Brevard County’s Brandon Macias.
Delmonico had setbacks
The left-handed hitter from Knoxville incurred two injuries in 2013 including an injury less than two dozen games into his time in the Brewers’ organization.
While a member of Fredrick Keys of the High A Carolina League, he suffered a concussion April 18 at Potomac and led to nearly a month of missed action.
Prior to the concussion, he began the season with a bang with a .325 batting average along with nine doubles, two home runs and nine RBI.
Delmonico’s injury derailed him the remainder of his time with the Orioles organization batting .226 with 48 strikeouts in 50 games.
Despite the setback, he still had the ability to collect extra base hits. He had 12 doubles and 13 home runs of his 55 total hits in 61 games for the Carolina League team.
Macias was the Manatees third baseman upon the arrival of Delmonico July 27 and led Brevard County Manager Joe Ayrault to alternate both between Designated Hitter and the infield position.
Aside from a trying season for Delmonico, he displayed some of the potential scouts saw in him while a member of the Manatees.
Delmonico produced three games where he drove in multiple runs including a three-RBI game August 14 when he doubled in all three in the first inning. The Manatees later won the game and stopped a four-game skid.
Delmonico still learning
The 2013 season was Delmonico’s first full season playing the hot corner after playing both first base and second base in 2012 for the South Atlantic League Delmarva Shorebirds.
With Delmarva, he collected 22 doubles with 11 home runs and 54 RBI. He accrued a batting average of .249 with an OBP of .351.
It also should be noted he was a 19-year-old for the majority of the season with the South Atlantic League team in 2012.
Delmonico managed to hold his own through his short professional career batting against pitchers older than him in both seasons including his most recent time in a pitching-rich Florida State League.
In conjunction with the high marks scouts credit him with, he has plenty of opportunity to substantially grow.
As Ramirez holds down the position at the Major League level at least through the 2015 pending the mutual option, there might be a season or two where Milwaukee will require a stopgap solution at 3B.
Ramirez has remained durable through his playing career accumulated more than 120 games a season in 11 of 13 seasons.
Milwaukee will have limited options regarding free agent third baseman at the conclusion of the 2014 season.
According to MLBTradeRumors, the following players will be free agents:
Alberto Callaspo (32)
Eric Chavez (37)
Jack Hannahan (35) – $4MM club option with a $2MM buyout
Chase Headley (31)
Casey McGehee (32)
Donnie Murphy (32)
Nick Punto (37) – club/vesting option
Aramis Ramirez (37) – mutual option
Hanley Ramirez (31)
Pablo Sandoval (28)
Ty Wigginton (37)
Kevin Youkilis (36)