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Brian Kowitz

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Brian Mark Kowitz

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[edit] Biographical Information

[edit] In college

As a senior at Clemson University, Brian Kowitz hit .403 and was among the leaders in NCAA Division I in runs (87, second behind Mitch Simons) and tied for 7th in hits (102). He stole 34 bases in 66 games and drove in 60 runners. His 37-game hitting streak tied Jeffrey Hammonds for the best in NCAA Division I. He was second in the Atlantic Coast Conference in batting average and made the ACC All-Star team as an outfielder. Baseball America named him as a second-team All-American outfielder. Following that campaign, he was drafted in the 9th round of the 1990 amateur draft by the Atlanta Braves.

[edit] Working his way through the minors

Brian began his professional career with the 1990 Pulaski Braves, batting .324/~.382/.538 with 13 steals in 43 games. He was 8th in the Appalachian League in average and made the Appy All-Star team as an outfielder; he was selected as the 8th-best prospect in the league by the managers. Amazingly, he jumped A ball altogether, going straight from the Rookie Pulaski team to the AA Greenville Braves, for whom he hit just .132/.230/.132 in 68 at-bats. He had gone from college ball to AA in the span of a year.

Kowitz began the 1991 season with the Durham Bulls and only hit .254/~.303/.353 with 18 steals. He was still promoted to Greenville again and did better this time, at .232/~.294/.357. In the 1991-1992 Australian Baseball League, Kowitz made the All-Star team as an outfielder for the Waverley Reds. He led the league with 32 walks, was second to Jon Deeble in OBP (.433) and tied Damon Buford for second with 26 steals. He tied Steve Hinton for third in runs (41). He returned to Durham once more in 1992 and posted a .301/~.373/.429 line with 22 steals. He was 6th in the Carolina League in average and made the league's All-Star team (joining Buford and Barrie Bahnert in the outfield). He again got a shot with Greenville and hit .286/~.355/.357 in 21 games there, though he was caught in 4 of 5 steal attempts.

Having achieved some success in his third stop at AA, he became a regular for the Greenville club in 1993 and batted .278/~.363/.378 (he was just 13 for 23 in steals). He made it to AAA that year with the Richmond Braves and batted .267/~.340/.422 for Richmond, scoring 10 runs in 12 games with them.

[edit] At his highest level of competition

Kowitz did a very good job with the Richmond Braves in 1994, batting .300/.357/.444 and placing in a tie for 9th in the International League in average. He stole 22 bases in 30 tries and fielded .991 in the outfield with 8 assists. Additionally he pitched two games, going 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA. In the postseason, Kowitz hit two homers in game two of the Governors' Cup and then made two fine defensive plays in game three of a 3-game sweep by Richmond.

Following his 1994 season, Kowitz was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 1994 Rule V Draft. He was returned to the Braves the following April, and 1995 was a bit of a let-down. Back with Richmond, he hit .280/~.355/.365 with 11 steals in 19 attempts. He did get his only major league baseball playing time that year, getting called up on June 3rd when David Justice was sidelined with an injury. Doubling in his first at-bat the next day, Kowitz hit only .167/.259/.208 in his limited big-league playing time (24 AB in 10 games) before Justice returned.

At age 26, Kowitz's career was almost over. In 1996 he signed with the Detroit Tigers but hit only .191/~.296/.265 for the Toledo Mud Hens. Released in May, he was picked up two months later by the Toronto Blue Jays but did not fare well with the Syracuse Chiefs (.241/~.299/.380) either and finished the year at .222/~.294/.335 overall. He retired after that year.

[edit] Postscript

Kowitz resurfaced briefly in 2000 with the independent Aberdeen Arsenal, hitting .432 and slugging .705 in 44 AB for the Atlantic League team, as a first baseman.

Sources: The Big Book of Jewish Baseball by Peter Horvitz and Joachim Horvitz, 1991-1997 Baseball Almanacs, 2001 Baseball Almanac, 1991 and 1995 Baseball Guides, Flintoff & Dunn Australian Baseball Almanac

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