Milwaukee Brewers Sign Former Spartan Chris Nowak
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Former USC Upstate standout Chris Nowak recently signed a professional contract with the Milwaukee Brewers. He began his career last Thursday with the organization's Double-A Affiliate, the Huntsville Stars of the Southern League.
In his second at-bat in a Stars uniform, Nowak hit a solo homerun over the centerfield wall. He finished the night 1-for-3 and recorded a base on balls. In his third game with Huntsville, Nowak delivered a bases clearing double to left field as the Stars posted seven runs in the bottom of the sixth en route to a 13-6 win over West Tennessee.
Nowak's first multi-hit game with the Stars came on July 19, as he finished 3-for-5 with one RBI and one run. Nowak, who has started all six games at first base since his arrival in Huntsville, is batting .261 and has seven RBI to go along with four runs.
Prior to signing with the Brewers, Nowak appeared in 64 games in 2010 with fellow Southern League member Montgomery. He owned a batting average of .248 and had 33 runs scored and 33 RBI. He tallied 17 extra-base hits (nine doubles, seven homeruns and one triple) before being released by the Biscuits. He also earned Southern League Player of the Week honors for the week of May 31 through June 6.
Nowak, a member of the Spartan baseball team for three-seasons, was drafted in the 19th-round of the 2004 MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Nowak, who left Spartanburg as the program's all time hits leader, owned a career batting average of .376. He never missed a start during his time at Upstate, as he started all 161 games during his three seasons.
The Waukesha, Wis., native wrapped-up his career with 53 doubles, which is still the best in program history. He scored 127 runs and record 121 RBI from 2002-04. As a freshman, Nowak batted .380 and finished the season with 82 hits, as he became the first player in program history to have 80 or more hits in a single season. Nowak collected 75 hits in each of his final two seasons as he finished with batting averages of .362 (2003) and .387 (2004).
Nowak began his professional career in the summer of 2004 with the Princeton Rays of the Appalachian League. Nowak was promoted and played the 2005 season with the Rays' Class-A Affiliate, the Bowling Green Hot Rods. Nowak appeared in 105 games for the Hot Rods and owned a season batting average of .304. He ranked second on the team in RBI (65) and doubles (28) and went 2-for-8 with a double and a home run in the Midwest League playoffs.
Nowak continued his climb up the Rays organizational ladder as he joined the Visalia Rawhide, the then-Class-A Advanced Affiliate of the Rays for the 2006 campaign. In 130 games, he batted .308, which ranked fourth in the Rays' organization. He hit 45 doubles in 2006, which led the Rays' organization and was one shy of the Minor League lead. It was also the fourth-highest single-season doubles total in Rays' history.
He led the California League with a career-best 103 RBI and he also scored a career-high 93 runs. During the California League playoffs, he paced the Rawhide with an average of .400 (18-for-45).
That season, Nowak earned High Class-A All-Star accolades from Baseball America. Baseball America also named him the prospect in the Rays organization with the best strike-zone discipline and the top defensive first baseman in the California League.
In 2007, Nowak again moved up, this time earning a spot with the Rays' Double-A Affiliate the Montgomery Biscuits. In 104 games with the Biscuits, Nowak collected 112 hits, 32 of which were for extra bases. He finished 2007 with an on-base percentage of .396, which ranked fifth in the Southern League and his .304 batting average ranked eighth.
Nowak, who finished the season with 55 RBI and 54 runs scored, was named the Most Valuable Player of the Southern League Championship Series. The Biscuits defeated Nowak's new club the Huntsville Stars, to claim their second-consecutive Southern League Championship.
Nowak returned to the Biscuits for the 2008 season. He appeared in 122 games and posted a .295 batting average. Before being promoted to Triple-A Durham, he had hit 35 doubles, which ranked fourth in the Southern League.
Nowak appeared in 14 games for the Durham Bulls, finishing with a .315 average as he collected 17 hits, seven runs and four RBI. He finished the season with a combined batting average of .297 and tallied career-bests in runs (87), doubles (37), and home runs (15).
In 2009, Nowak again split time between Montgomery and Durham. He began the season with the Biscuits and had a batting average of .311to go along with 36 RBI, 27 runs, 11 doubles, two home runs before returning to Durham.
Nowak batted .228 in Durham with 13 doubles, four home runs and one triple to go along with 23 RBI and 22 runs. He finished the season with a combined batting average of .268 with 24 doubles and six home runs to compliment 59 RBI and 49 runs.