Trifecta of Returnees
Just a couple of weeks ago, no one would have had Chris Nowak or Chris Cody on their radar for opening the season back in York, but both will. Nowak’s and Cody’s signings were announced today, along with the re-signing of Shaun Garceau.
It was reported earlier in the off-season that Nowak would in fact NOT be coming back. His ginormous 2011 season landed him a tryout with the Yokohama BayStars in Japan, and once that didn’t pan out, he still had an opportunity to fall back on Mexico. Power hitters are always placed at a premium value in the Mexican League, so everyone around here assumed we wouldn’t see him back until August when that season ended, if at all. But things didn’t pan out for him in Mexico, and Nowak will return to York to begin the 2012 season. We may see him play some third base and outfield as well, allowing him to show major league organizations everything that he’s able to do (as if he didn’t already do that last season). His numbers from last year are still hard to fathom. At the pace at which he hit home runs last season, if he played every day in a 140-game season and maintained that pace, he’d hit over 40 home runs. But then again if he does that, I can’t imagine that he’ll be here all year.
Cody is another one who was a big part of things here last year, but due to his performance, wasn’t around at season’s end, and thus kind of flew under the radar until his signing today. He took a really solid partial season in York, and actually performed better at Double-A after earning a contract with Atlanta at the end of July last season. He was with the Braves in spring training, but was recently let go, and he’ll return to York looking to write another success story this season. The Revs now have 13 pitchers under contract, seven lefties. In fact, they could end up with four lefties in the starting rotation, with Thurm being the only exception. We shall see (will have to come up with a nickname for the group if that’s the case).
Teammates would marvel at Garceau’s stuff from the side last year. That effortless 95 mph fastball (maybe the only one who could rival Matt DeSalvo’s long-tossing ability), a knee-buckling curve that could make hitters look dumb… he’s got all the raw tools, but is still quite young in this veteran league. It’s not an easy road for him trying to prove himself here, but with a year under his belt, they’ll look for more consistency from him this season, and perhaps he can earn his shot too. After adjusting to the league through the first half and pitching smarter deeper into the year, Garceau really showed what he was capable of, and was the dominant young gun that they hoped he’d be on a pretty consistent basis in the second half. He also has the ability to start or pitch in relief, and as we all know with the way rosters can turn in this league, that’s a good type of guy to have on your staff.
Now for all of you fact-lovers, here is today’s press release:
With less than two weeks before players report for spring training, the two-time defending Atlantic League champion York Revolution have announced the return of three major contributors from last season’s title-winning club, welcoming back single-season home run champion Chris Nowak, along with pitchers Chris Cody and Shaun Garceau. The Revs now have 21 players under contract for the 2012 season, including 13 returning from last year’s team.
Nowak established a new club record for home runs in a season last year, blasting 25 long balls in only 84 games. His home run total tied for third most in the league, while he ranked second in the league in batting with a .330 average, and led the league by a wide margin with a team record .646 slugging percentage. His monster season earned him Atlantic League All-Star and Baseball America All-Independent Team honors, while he shared the team’s Player of the Year award with pitcher Corey Thurman. Having not joined the team until mid-June, Nowak’s projected home run total for last year’s full 126-game season would have been a whopping 38. The Revs went 55-33 after his signing.
The 29-year-old was originally a 19th round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2004 and is a career .289 hitter. Nowak led the California League with 45 doubles and 103 RBI while batting .308 forVisalia in 2006. The following year, the Milwaukee native hit .304 at Double-A Montgomery, and was named Southern League Championship Series MVP. He has reached Triple-A for parts of three seasons, and opened last year with Triple-A Nashville in the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
Cody played a major role for a Revolution team that set a franchise record in wins last season, and earned a contract with the Atlanta Braves organization for his performance with York. Cody set a club record for wins in a first half with seven, and led the Atlantic League in starts and innings while ranking second in wins, third in strikeouts, and tenth in ERA at the time of his signing with the Braves on July 31. Cody went 9-5 with a 4.39 ERA in 18 starts in a Revolution uniform, walking just 19 while striking out 78 in 104.2 innings. He continued that success at Double-A Mississippi, going 3-1 with a 3.46 ERA in six starts, and notching a complete game victory on September 1 at Carolina.
The left-handed Cody, 28, was an eighth-round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 2006, and has also spent time in the Brewers organization, reaching the Triple-A level with Nashville in 2009. Cody is 49-37 with a 3.26 ERA for his pro career.
Garceau went 4-9 with a 5.45 ERA as one of the youngest players in the Atlantic League in his first season with York, but those numbers hardly tell the entire story. In 20 appearances, including 10 starts between June 29-September 11, the 24-year-old went 3-3 with a 3.41 ERA, allowing only 61 hits in 71.1 innings. He enjoyed the best month of July in Revolution history, posting a 1.71 ERA in eight games (three starts), and combined to go 2-0 with a 1.70 ERA from June 29 through August 10. Garceau came within two outs of a complete game shutout on August 10 in a 4-1 win at Camden. Two starts later, he did go the distance in just the second complete game shutout in Revs history, a four-hit, nine-strikeout effort against the Road Warriors on August 20.
Garceau enters his seventh pro season in 2012. He spent his first five seasons in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, reaching Double-A Springfield in 2010.
“I’m happy that we’re able to bring back these three players who did a lot for us last season,” said Revs manager Andy Etchebarren. “Nowak had one of the best offensive seasons in the league last year. Cody throws strikes, keeps hitters off-balance, and was really solid for us. Garceau has tremendous stuff and is a good, versatile guy to have on our staff, being able to start or pitch in relief.”