|The Diamondbacks negotiated a trade to retain major league Rule 5 selection Brett Lorin, sending 20-year-old righthander Robby Rowland to the Pirates as compensation. Arizona promptly outrighted the 25-year-old Lorin to Double-A Mobile.
After acquiring the rights to Lorin, the Diamondbacks, remarkably, have retained their past four Rule 5 picks, a stretch that encompasses two general managers in Josh Byrnes and current head honcho Kevin Towers. A quick rundown: The D-backs kept lefty Joe Paterson, their 2010 selection, in the major league bullpen all of last season (and he struck out the only batter he faced in the Division Series); they retained 2009 pick Zach Kroenke, another lefty, for no compensation and carried him on the 40-man roster for two seasons; and they worked out a trade to keep catcher James Skelton, their 2008 selection, in the organization—though they released him a year after acquisition. Perhaps Arizona still feels lingering organizational guilt for losing Dan Uggla in the 2005 Rule 5 draft.
The Pirates have received mostly positive results when buying low on pitchers with promise who have hit on hard times, pitchers like Rowland, a third-round pick out of high school in 2010 who has been hit hard in pro ball. For example, righthanders Joel Hanrahan, James McDonald and Charlie Morton cost very little to obtain, and that trio now constitutes Pittsburgh's closer and top two starters. Likewise, lefty Jeff Locke joined the organization along with Morton in the 2009 Nate McLouth trade, and the 2006 second-rounder has pitched well enough in the high minors to suggest he'll have a big league career. However, the book is still open on righty Tim Alderson, the 2007 first-round pick whom the Pirates acquired for Freddy Sanchez and who has spent the past three seasons marooned at Double-A Altoona.
|Robby Rowland, rhp
Born: Dec. 15, 1991 in Cloverdale, Calif.
Ht.: 6-6. Wt.: 205. Bats: B. Throws: R.
School: Cloverdale (Calif.) HS.
Career Transactions: Selected by Diamondbacks in third round of 2010 draft; signed June 17, 2010.
Rowland repeated the Rookie-level Pioneer League last season and owns a career 6-13, 7.01 record (1.60 WHIP) through 28 starts for Missoula. Take those numbers with at least a tiny grain of salt: The Osprey play in an extreme hitter's park in the most extreme hitter's league in the minors. (The Missoula team ERA is north of 5.00 over the past two seasons.) Rowland shows fine control of fairly ordinary stuff, but his tall, athletic frame and clean mechanics suggest he could develop into the next Brett Lorin—or perhaps more. He pitches at 88-92 mph but with solid sinking and tailing action, while his changeup (also referred to as a forkball in 2010) often shows plus tumbling action. His slider is ahead of his slow curveball, but both are fringy pitches now. Rowland's father Rich, a catcher, spent parts of six seasons in the big leagues and his older brother Richie played in the Diamondbacks system in 2010.
|Brett Lorin, rhp
Born: March 31, 1987 in Fountain Valley, Calif.
Ht.: 6-7. Wt.: 245. Bats: L. Throws: R.
School: Long Beach State.
Career Transactions: Selected by Mariners in fifth round of 2008 draft; signed June 7, 2008 ... Traded by Mariners with C Jeff Clement, SS Ronny Cedeno and RHPs Nathan Adcock and Aaron Pribanic to Pirates for RHP Ian Snell and SS Jack Wilson, July 29, 2009 ... Selected by Diamondbacks from Pirates in Rule 5 major league draft, Dec. 8, 2011.
Lorin commands three pitches and could fit at the back of a rotation or in a middle-relief role. He sits 88-91 mph and hits both sides of the plate with his two-seam fastball, while mixing in sliders and changeups that flirt with being average pitches. Though old for the Florida State League last season as a 24 year old, Lorin performed well against the competition, finishing third in ERA (2.84) and WHIP (1.04) and fourth in opponent average (.230). He was especially sharp in eight relief appearances, notching a 29-4 K-BB ratio and allowing 24 hits in 32 innings.