Sunday, April 1, 2012

Player Profile: Robby Rowland

Update: Make sure to read this excellent piece/interview about/with Rowland

The Arizona Diamondbacks used their Rule 5 pick to pluck pitcher Brett Lorin from the Pirates farm system.  Rather than keeping Lorin on their 25-man roster for the entire year - the Rule 5 requirement to be able to keep Lorin - the Diamondbacks worked out a deal to send pitcher Robby Rowland in order to keep Lorin indefinitely and with no strings attached. 

At first glance, Rowland is a fairly intriguing prospect.  A third round draft pick of the Diamondbacks in 2010, Rowland was a projectable 6'6, 210 pound right-handed prep pitcher.  At the time of the draft, Rowland threw a fastball that sat in the high 80's and touched as high as 92.  He also had three other pitches, a curveball, changeup, and slider/cutter, but all three pitches were incredibly raw.  Rowland's delivery was also notable.  His mechanics were fluid and loose and the arm action was a full overhand delivery.  Rowland ended up signing for a bonus of $395,000.

Rowland had a decent first year as a professional.  In 54 innings, he posted a poor 5.67 innings but also managed to strikeout 40 batters while only walking 21.  Rowland's second year resulted in a higher ERA, mainly due to 15 homeruns in 68 innings, but his peripheral numbers were better.  Rowland struck out 52 hitters and only walked 17, both solid numbers. 

Recently, Rowland has changed his delivery.  He now throws from a three-quarters arm-slot instead of the full overhand delivery.  As a result, Rowland's fastball has lost a bit of velocity - he had been working in the 92-94 mph range - and the heater only sits in the 89-91 mph range. However, the pitch now has significant movement, specifically good sink.  Rowland was already able to put up great groundball numbers - he posted a 3.34 groundball/flyball ratio in 2011 - so this change could help solidify Rowland as an extreme groundball pitcher.  Rowland's secondaries will still need work, but given his size and ability to entice groundballs, but considering he won't turn 21 until December, he's an interesting prospect to watch going forward.