Robby Rowland had considerable momentum heading into 2016, a very different situation from the year before.
Released by his second organization, the Pirates, late in the 2014 season, the now 24-year-old did not sign with the St. Louis Cardinals until late March 2015. Rowland opened with Peoria, where he earned a Midwest League All-Star berth after his promotion to Palm Beach. Following his second promotion of the 2015 season, to Double-A Springfield, the reliever was assigned to the Arizona Fall League prospect showcase.
That put Rowland into position to secure a non-roster invitation to St. Louis’ major league spring training camp for 2016. However, before reporting to Jupiter, Florida, the right-hander was stopped in his tracks by bone chips in his elbow that required surgery.
When I spoke with him during spring training, Rowland confidently vowed to work his way back into game action before the 2016 season concludes. True to his word, I spoke with him during the first stop on his rehab stint, with the short-season Class-A level State College Spikes. I caught his second time out in person, a 1-2-3 inning in which he fanned the side. Rowland’s fastball was in the 90-92 mph range and he mixed in a slider at 83-84.
After three appearances with the Spikes, during which he allowed two runs in the first outing, followed by three scoreless innings over the next two that included five strikeouts, Rowland has returned to Florida, this time to rejoin Palm Beach.
Always upbeat, Rowland recapped his year and a half with the Cardinals organization in the exclusive 11-plus-minute interview that follows.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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