#MLBPlayers411 | Chris Rowley
For most big-league hopefuls, after college comes the process of persevering and ascending through the minor leagues.
Not for Chris Rowley. At least, not immediately after school.
Rowley graduated from the United States Military Academy in 2013 and was deployed overseas to begin serving his country. He got a small taste of professional baseball in the summer of 2013 when he was signed by the Blue Jays and played during a two-month leave from the Army.
It was until after serving in active duty for the U.S. Army for nearly three years, in March 2016, that Rowley signed as a free agent by Toronto and renewed his professional pitching career. He was 10-3 with a 3.49 ERA in nine games, including five starts, for Class-A Dunedin in the Florida State League.
He started the 2017 season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the Double-A affiliate of the Blue Jays. After a string of successful starts and appearances out of the bullpen, he was promoted to Triple-A Buffalo in June. Rowley made only 10 appearances with Buffalo before he got the call-up to the big-league club.
Five days ago, the right-hander from Georgia made history by becoming the first graduate of the United States Military Academy to appear in a game for a Major League club, allowing just a run in 5 1/3 innings in a start against the Pirates in his debut. "I don't think that it's something I understand the magnitude of," Rowley told MLB.com after his call-up. "It's something that I'm trying to appreciate, but at the same time, I think that I have a job to do. I've got to go out and do that."
He also became just the eighth Blue Jays pitcher to record a win in his career debut, while giving up two earned runs or fewer, and first since Ricky Romero accomplished the feat for the Blue Jays on April 9, 2009.
Not unlike his unique journey to the majors, Rowley's pitching style differs from a vast majority of current Major League players.
Rowley doesn't rely on an overpowering fastball, nor does he rack up a lot of strikeouts. Rather, he pitches to contact with off-speed pitches.
“I've always been a guy that's had to pitch his way to the next level,” he said in an interview with the Times Herald-Record in July. “I've always known that I would have to pitch my way to the big leagues.”
He was scheduled to make his second start this afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays.
“Saying that I'm proud to represent the service academies and the Army is the biggest understatement I could make,” Rowley said to the Buffalo Bisons after learning of his call-up.
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