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Getting to CHS Field

Saints Sign Former Dodger Farmhand, Reliever Karch Kowalczyk

ST. PAUL, MN June 13, 2019

When a player goes down because of injury managers need to be quick in order to find a replacement.  With no farm system in the American Association that means finding quality players looking for that next opportunity.  For St. Paul Saints manager George Tsamis, replacing one of his best relievers, Mike Devine, wasn’t going to be easy, but he found someone that could slide right into the bullpen role signing former Los Angeles Dodgers farmhand, reliever Karch Kowalczyk.


          The 28-year-old Kowalczyk played his entire career in the Dodgers organization and last season he began the year at Double-A Tulsa where he went 1-1 with a 6.16 ERA and one save in 22 relief appearances.  In 30.2 innings pitched he walked 17 and struck out 31 while opponents hit .302 against him.  Despite the high ERA, Kowalczyk was on a roll, not allowing a run over 8.2 innings when he went down with an injury and missed six weeks of the season from mid-July to the end of August.  Kowalczyk came off the disabled list and pitched one game at Triple-A Oklahoma City on August 21 before going back to Tulsa.  He helped the Drillers win the Texas League Championship in a three-game sweep over the San Antonio Missions.


          Kowalczyk was a 37th round pick by the Dodgers in 2014 out of Valparaiso and began the year with the AZL Dodgers where he went 0-1 with a 1.69 ERA and three saves in five relief appearances.  He was promoted to the Rookie Level Ogden Raptors in July and went 1-0 with a 4.71 ERA and one save in 14 relief appearances.  In 21.0 innings pitched he walked 12 and struck out 19 while opponents hit .326 against him.  He struck out at least one in his first seven appearances including four in 2.2 innings of relief on August 5. 


          In 2015, Kowalczyk began the season at Single-A Great Lakes and went 4-1 with a 2.53 ERA and six saves in 22 relief appearances.  In 32.0 innings pitched he walked 12 and struck out 19 while opponents hit .281 against him.  He didn’t allow a run over his first six appearances (9.0 IP) including 3.0 shutout innings on April 17.  He didn’t allow a run in 15 of 22 appearances and recorded either a win or save in eight straight decisions from May 6-June 14, including a save in four straight appearances from May 14-23.  Kowalczyk was promoted to High-A Rancho Cucamonga at the end of June and went 1-2 with a 4.26 ERA and two saves in 24 relief appearances.  In 31.2 innings pitched he walked 16 and struck out 35 while opponents hit .242 against him.  He went eight straight relief appearances (8.0 IP) from July 31-August 22 without allowing a run.


          Despite spending most of 2016 injured, Kowalczyk was superb when he was on the mound going 1-2 with a 3.31 ERA and six saves in 16 relief appearances at Rancho Cucamonga.  He was placed on the disabled list on June 6 and made two rehab appearances in the Arizona League before being assigned to Great Lakes in September.  He was the winning pitcher in the Championship clinching game for the Loons in a three-games-to-one series victory over Clinton.


          Kowalczyk came back healthy in 2017 and spent the entire season with Double-A Tulsa.  He had an outstanding season going 5-7 with a 3.18 ERA in 44 relief appearances.  In 62.1 innings pitched he walked 23 and struck out 46 while opponents hit .261 against him.  He finished fifth in the league in holds (7) and his team once again made the playoffs, but lost in the fifth and deciding game in the Texas League Championship Series to the Midland RockHounds.  Kowalczyk went six straight relief appearances (8.2 IP) without allowing a run from May 30-June 12 and then eight straight relief appearances (9.2 IP) without allowing a run from July 13-August 2.  Overall, he didn’t allow a run in 30 of his 44 appearances.


          At Valparaiso, Kowalczyk was the Horizon League Pitcher of the Year as a junior going 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 12 saves in 24 relief appearances.  In 26.0 innings he struck out 18 and opponents hit .189 against him.  His ERA during the regular season was 0.36.  He was named to the 2014 National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America Pre-Season Stopper of the Year Watch List and to the Horizon League Pre-Season All-League Team.


          In order to make room for Kowalczyk, the Saints placed reliever Mike Devine on the inactive list (minimum 30 days) with an oblique strain.  The move is retroactive to June 4.  Devine is 1-1 with a 1.08 ERA in 11 relief appearances.  In 11.2 innings he has walked three, struck out 20 and opponents are hitting .169 against him.


          The Saints roster is currently at 21 players, 10 pitchers and 11 position players.