Robby Rowland Joins 'From Phenom To The Farm:' Episode 5 (Part 2)
“From Phenom to the Farm” releases new episodes every other Tuesday featuring players whose experiences vary across the professional baseball spectrum. Players will discuss their personal experiences going from high school graduation to the life of a professional baseball player.
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Normally, being released from your contract barely four years after being drafted would be a death knell to any professional baseball player’s confidence. Robby Rowland was just 22 years old when he was cut loose by the Pirates organization. It’d be understandable to think that any player in that position wouldn’t have a shred of optimism about their future prospects in the game.
But that just isn’t Robby Rowland.
“For some reason I was like, oh, this is just what I needed,” said Rowland, when discussing his post-release mindset. “It sucks, but this is what I needed.”
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In the 10 years (and counting) that Rowland has been a professional baseball player, he’s hit many a career benchmark. Some good, some not so great.
Major League camp spring training invite? Check.
Arizona Fall League appearance? Also check.
Winter ball job? Done that too.
Major surgery? Yep.
Released during Spring Training, mid-season, and the offseason? Check, check, check.
The 2010 3rd round pick has thrown in over 220 professional games, spanning three affiliated organizations, two Independent clubs, and two stints in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Through that time, he’s has to rebuild his body and his mindset on the mound, multiple times. He’s toed the rubber sitting 89 and sitting 99. Rowland could’ve called it a career multiple times, and no one would’ve blamed him.
It could’ve been following that first release in the summer of 2014, when he was still around the age of a normal college student. He could’ve also called it quits after finding himself surprisingly released in the spring of 2017, or later that summer after taking a line drive off his face while pitching in Indy Ball.
Facing a major shoulder surgery in 2019, Rowland yet again could’ve made the decision to walk away from baseball. Go into coaching, go back to school, do anything other than continue to work to get back on the mound. At that point, after ten years’ worth of adversity, it was fair to ask if Rowland was still dead set on his plan to get to the big leagues.
“Oh, yeah. No question.” Rowland knows that might confidence might raise the eyebrows of some, who on paper just see a 28 year old who’s topped out at AA. “Because everyone else that like maybe looks at that outside looking in, they don’t see the little things; they don’t see the amount of hours that I put into this. They don’t see the times that I’m at my absolute best.”
Over a decade in professional baseball, Rowland’s goal has yet to change; it might’ve taken him a bit longer than he’d originally thought it would when signing, but the free agent right-hander still has his eyes on the prize.
While he continues his climb to the big leagues, he’s documenting every step of his training through his very popular Instagram account, website, and podcast (The Robby Row Show), and relaying what he’s learned about the game to younger players via personal coaching. Right now it’d take an army to keep Rowland from continuing to pitch as long as there’s a mound for him, but his contribution to baseball will go far beyond his playing career.
“I’ve gone through a pretty good journey; there’s been a lot of teaching points,” says Rowland about his future plans. “If I can influence, or teach, or instruct, or encourage somebody else, before they have to go through some of that stuff, then all my stuff that I went through was friggin’ worth it.”
In Part 2 of our ‘From Phenom to the Farm’ episode with Robby Rowland, Robby details how he built back his body and confidence after a release, going from Big League camp to Indy ball, and how he’s translating his experiences into his personal coaching.