D-Backs sign Nowak
On the same day York announced three more player signings for 2013, the Revs also learned one of the best players in franchise history got picked up by a big league club.
Credit to Revs’ baseball operations manager Andrew Ball on pointing out this one Wednesday. The Arizona Diamondbacks have signed former Revs’ slugger Chris Nowak to a minor league contract (Revs’ media guru Paul Braverman also said that former Revs’ reliever Mike DeMark is being brought back to the D’Backs this season after going 5-5 with a 4.19 ERA in 53 games at Class AAA Reno in 2012).
This comes after Nowak hit .311 with six homers and 16 RBIs in 37 games played for the Navegantes in the Venezuela winter league. The Navegantes are still playing in the playoff championship series, with San Francisco Giants’ World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval having extended the series to seven games. Nowak wasn’t in the box score for Game 6, but also on the Navegantes team is big league outfielder Endy Chavez and Texas Rangers’ short stop Elvis Andrus.
Anyway, it’s good to see Nowak finally getting another chance. Ball told me last week he was chatting with Nowak’s agent, who apparently said teams might be interested in seeing what Nowak can do in the outfield (if Nowak couldn’t find an affiliated deal, he likely would’ve came back to the Revs). Remember, Nowak has played sparingly in the outfield the last two seasons. So, it remains to be seen what he’ll do in the D’Backs’ system, especially since he’s spent the majority of his time at first base and third base over the last nine months.
So, with Nowak gone, it makes last weeks’ signing of third baseman Andy Marte that much more important. Nowak spent a good chunk of last season learning third base – and did a fine job, I might add. Had both Marte and Nowak returned to York, Nowak likely would’ve ended up at first base. So, the Revs will have to fill that hole.
Nowak becomes the sixth former Revs’ player to get picked up by a big league club this off-season, joining outfielder Mike Hernandez (Tigers) and pitchers Victor Garate (Dodgers), Mike Benacka (Blue Jays), Ryan Feierabend (Rangers) and Shawn Hill (Tigers).
Numbers, honors: Nowak was one of Revs’ seven players who brought in 2012 Atlantic League first- and second-team honors. He and second baseman Andres Perez were also selected to Baseball America’s All-Independent team. It marked the second straight year Nowak was selected to the all-indy team. Nowak had a club-record 34 homers (seven more than anyone else) while collecting 107 RBIs. It marks the league’s highest total in both categories since 2005. The slugger also batted .285 in 129 games played and finished second in the league in walks (71) and extra-base hits (63), and ranked third in on-base percentage (.391). That followed a 2011 season where Nowak batted .330 with 25 homers and 66 RBIs in 84 games for York.
Turnaround: Nowak, 29, will be entering his 10th year as a pro in 2013. But it’s only been in the last two that he’s lived up to the expectations that come with being 6-foot, 5-inch corner outfielder. When chatting about his turnaround in 2011, Nowak credited his success to a change to a longer and heavier bat, and the chance to play everyday for the same team for a sustained period of time. He also says the instructions of Brewers’ minor league hitting coach Al LeBoeuf in 2010 paid off.
“At the time (last season) I couldn’t take what he was telling me and incorporate it into the game because I was just so twisted in my own head from everything I had gone through,” Nowak had said in 2011. “Then the off-season came, I started incorporating things.”
Read that full story here.
This will mark the first time Nowak will play in the D’Backs’ organization. He’s spent the majority of his career in the farm systems of the Tampa Bay Rays and Milwaukee Brewers, reaching Class AAA Durham (Rays) in 2008 and 2009. He also began the 2011 season at Class AAA Nashville (Brewers) before coming to York.