Rowland is earning that $3,700

Posted by Staff Writer Eric Branch:
The unforseen and unbelievable start to Richie Rowland’s professional career is such a good story that I decided to catch up with the former Cloverdale High star today.
For those who don’t know, Richie, 21, is the older and less-heralded brother of Cloverdale’s Robby Rowland, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ third-round draft pick. The day after Arizona selected Robby, it signed Richie, an undrafted catcher from tiny Campbellsville (Ky.) University, to a free-agent contract.
Robby, 18, a pitcher, had lobbied for the team that drafted him to also take his brother. And when the Diamondbacks signed Richie it was easy to view it as merely a courtesy. Even Richie doesn’t dispute the notion.
“I’m fortunate the Diamondbacks were nice enough to give me a shot,” Richie said. “Who knows what they thought of me. And who knows if they only did it because of Robby. I still don’t even know that.”
Richie may not know about the Diamondbacks’ motivation, but he appears less clueless about professional pitching.
In his first nine games with the Missoula (Mt.) Osprey, Arizona’s short-season rookie advanced team, Richie leads the Pioneer League in batting with a .567 average (17 of 30). Entering tonight’s game at Great Falls, Richie is on an eight-game hitting streak during which he has three three-hit games.
Not bad for a guy who signed for $3,700 and, admittedly, would have inked for a stick of gum. Robby signed for $395,000. And the disparity hasn’t gone unnoticed among the brothers’ new teammates.
“It’s kind of like this clubhouse joke,” Richie said. “They all say he’s the one who got paid all this money and I’m the one doing all the work.”
His blazing start hasn’t clouded Richie’s perspective, however. He understands the odds are slim of making the big leagues, but he hopes to stay in baseball for many years, perhaps as a coach or scout.
So whatever happens to his playing career, he’s thrilled that, for whatever reason, the Diamondbacks gave him a chance.
“I’ve always wanted to put myself in this kind of atmosphere where it’s just baseball because I’ve always felt like this is what I was meant to do,” Richie said. “Once I got this chance, I felt like all the pressure was off because I got here. For a lot of guys, they get here and they feel all this pressure. I’m just the opposite.”