US Army Veteran Chris Rowley Allows 1 Run Through 5.1 Innings in MLB Debut

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistAugust 12, 2017

Army's Chris Rowley pitches during an NCAA college baseball tournament regional game in Charlottesville, Va., Friday, May 31, 2013. Virginia defeated Army 2-1. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Steve Helber/Associated Press

The Toronto Blue Jays called up United States Army veteran Chris Rowley to start Saturday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Rogers Centre.

Rowley allowed one run through 5.1 innings before being pulled in the sixth inning of the 7-2 victory.

"That was really, really cool," Rowley said, per Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. "Having my family here to share it with me, walking off and all those people standing, that was something that was really special for me. I don't think anybody really expects to experience that in their life but it was pretty special."

Rowley signed with the Blue Jays organization after going undrafted in 2013. He made nine appearances in the Gulf Coast League that season before missing the next two years for active military duty.

The Atlanta native returned to Toronto's minor league system in 2016 and has spent the past two years quickly working his way up the ladder.

He's made 27 appearances, including 11 starts, between the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Double A) and the Buffalo Bisons (Triple A) so far this season. He's posted a 2.29 ERA and 1.02 WHIP with 90 strikeouts in 106.1 innings across those stops.

Now, at age 26, he made his MLB debut with the league's only team not based in the U.S. He joked that's something he thought about.

"Definitely," Rowley said, per MLB.com. "There's a huge sense of nationalism that goes into both of the professions that I've been in, I know in the United States Army and now the only Major League Baseball team in Canada."

Rowley's versatility could also put him in line to serve as bullpen depth when rosters expand Sept. 1 if Toronto doesn't keep him in the rotation.