Carolina notes: Nowak knows change

Orioles prospect amassing hits in first crack at Frederick

By Jeff Seidel / Special to | May 30, 2012 6:31 AM ET

Some Minor Leaguers have problems making adjustments. Jeremy Nowak of the Frederick Keys is not one of them.

Nowak's done a good job at making changes throughout his college and pro career, a big reason he's improved each season. His average has jumped every year, and Nowak sat sixth in the Carolina League with a .328 average through Monday's games.

"I like what I see," Frederick manager Orlando Gomez said. "He's been consistent almost all year. He's using the whole field and getting better."

The Orioles picked Nowak in the 13th round of the 2010 Draft out of Mt. Olive College (N.C.), a Division II school. Nowak had transferred there for his senior year after playing three years of Division I baseball with Stony Brook (N.Y.) in the America East Conference.

Nowak had been a pitcher and position player at Stony Brook and did some two-way work at Mt. Olive as well. But upon transferring, Nowak began concentrating more on his hitting skills and his outfield defense.

"At Mt. Olive, the coaches told me right away that I could go somewhere with my bat," Nowak said. "That's what I always wanted. I love hitting. Pitching was secondary to me."

Nowak started his year at Mt. Olive with a 35-game hitting streak, the second longest in Division II history. He ended the season with 17 homers and a school-record 99 hits, earning 2010 Player of the Year honors in the Conference Carolinas.

But Nowak needed to start making adjustments again after signing with the Orioles. He had just a .179 average in 2010 with Aberdeen and went to extended spring training in 2011 to work on his approach. Nowak started fast with the IronBrids the second time around and moved up to Class A Delmarva soon after, doing well at first before struggling and finishing with a .234 average.

Nowak said. "The earlier I can get my hands set, the better I'm going to see the pitches."

He kept working to do better in 2012, and it's paying off. The outfielder started well and has kept rolling. He's got 44 hits in his first 34 games and has been a big plus on offense for the Keys this season.

Nowak said he's learned that adjustments are important and something that's got to be done on a regular basis. The better he fares with those changes, the better he'll do at the plate.

"For us hitters, it's not so much a week-to-week or a month-to-month adjustment, it's a ... pitch-to-pitch adjustment," he said.

In brief

Big debut: Dylan Bundy drew a crowd at Frederick on Saturday night for his first start with the Keys. The Keys packed 9,833 into Harry Grove Stadium, their largest crowd since May 6, 2006.

RBI time: Carolina's Jeremie Tice has been a consistent run producer all season. He drove in 12 more runs over a 10-game span through Monday, giving the designated hitter a league-high 40 RBIs in just 37 games with the Mudcats.

Strong quartet: Four members of Wilmington's starting lineup delivered 10 of the team's 11 hits in a 4-3 win over Carolina on Monday. The first three hitters in the order -- Angel Franco, Geulin Beltre and Brian Fletcher -- collected seven of the hits as Franco went 2-for-5 with a homer, Beltre was 3-for-5 and Fletcher finished 2-for-4. The No. 9 batter, Luis Piterson, went 3-for-4 with a double.

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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