Right-handed pitcher Roberto Novoa and infielder Andy Gonzalez have played in the big leagues. And they might be two of the more pivotal players signed by the Revs in 2011.
But the Revs’ biggest announcement Wednesday could be the return of reliever Michael Nix.
Most fans remember the way Nix closed out the 2010 season — recording the final out of the Atlantic League Championship Series at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn.
Hitters could barely touch the 27-year-old in the postseason. He threw six innings in the playoffs and did not allow a run or a walk. He surrendered three hits and struck out eight. Opponents managed just a .143 batting average against him.
The right-hander also played a big role in York’s ability to reach the championship series. He needed just two pitches to end a no-out, runners on first and third jam in the seventh inning of the deciding fifth game of the Freedom Division Championship Series against Somerset. The Revs won the game, 1-0.
“I don’t know if there have ever been two bigger pitches thrown by a Revolution pitcher,” said Revolution director of baseball operations Michael Kirk.
York manager Andy Etchebarren acquired Nix (4-2, 2.48 ERA) in a midseason deal negotiated with Newark manager Tim Raines. The Revs sent two pitchers to Newark in July, and Raines agreed to send Nix to York in September to complete the deal.
The former Braves prospect had uncanny success against the Somerset Patriots. And Etchebarren knew he would have to beat Somerset in the postseason. (Nix didn’t allow a run against Somerset in 11 appearances, including the postseason.)
“The group of guys I played with were just outstanding,” Nix said. “York’s one of the best places I’ve ever played. From the fans to the team to the front office to the coaching staff to Etch, it was just a great environment. I had interest from other independent teams, but York was the only independent team where I wanted to go.”
The Revs now have 12 players under contract, including a scary back-end of the bullpen. The Revs could turn to Jason Richardson, Celson Polanco, Nix and R.J. Rodriguez to finish games.
* Gonzalez, 29, joins the Revs after sitting out all of 2010. Released by the Orioles in spring training 2010, the utility infielder signed with the independent Sussex Skyhawks of the Can-Am League in May. But he was diagnosed with a torn meniscus less than a week before the season, and Sussex released him.
He has appeared in 91 big league games with the White Sox, Indians and Marlins. Offense has been his one weakness: He has a .258 career batting average in nine minor league seasons.
Gonzalez can play almost anywhere in the field, playing in the pros at first, second, shortstop, third and all three outfield positions. And his constant shuffling could help explain his three-error inning at third with the White Sox in 2007. Indians third baseman Andy Marte became the first major leaguer since then to match the feat when he botched three plays in the top of the first against the Yankees last June. But Gonzalez’s versatility should be a benefit in the Atlantic League, where the coaching staff needs to shuffle players after signings and injuries.
“He provides us with some flexibility,” Kirk said.
* Novoa, 29, will play in the United States for the first time since 2009. He starred for Monclova of the Mexican League last season, going 6-0 with a 3.97 ERA as a starter. The Mexican League is regarded as a Triple-A level league by Minor League Baseball. And Novoa is expected to challenge for a spot in the Revs starting rotation.
Novoa has appeared in 131 big league games, going 7-7 with a 4.51 ERA for the Tigers and Cubs from 2004 through 2006.
And in an unusual twist, Roberto’s younger brother Yunior Novoa — a left-handed reliever — signed with division rival Lancaster earlier this month. They would be the first siblings to play against each other in the Route 30 rivalry.