It's been a rough year and a half for one of the more interesting young arms in the game, Edinson Volquez. Coming to the Reds in the Josh Hamilton trade back in '08, it appeared as though Volquez had turned the corner after a rough stretch in Texas. However, the former member of the "DVD" trio returned from Tommy John Surgery in mid-July and is looking to pitch his first full season in three years.
Signed at the age of 17 in 2001 as "Julio Reyes," Volquez became "Volquez" in 2003 after a crackdown occurred. Even so, Edinson Volquez has always been one of those guys who is just impossible not to like -- he's a flame thrower and always has smile on his face. The former Texas Ranger was traded during the 2007-2008 off-season to the Reds along with Daniel Ray Herrera in exchange for now-MVP Josh Hamilton. He's entering his age 27 season and looks to be the same fierce competitor he was during the season when he matched up well with some of the best in the game.
The 6'-0" right -hander is somewhat underrated. Not to say that he's Pedro Martinezor anything, but despite some ugly starts as of recently, he's managed to post solid peripherals throughout his three year stint in Cincy. Over that three-year span, Volquez has managed a 119 ERA+ along with 320 K's in 308.1 IP. On top of that, he actually maintained his velocity since the injury, throwing his fastball and slider slightly harder. Also posting a 6.5 bWAR during the three-year span, a healthy Volquez can go along way to helping the Reds re-do what they did in '10.
ZiPS projects Volquez at a 115 ERA + in '11 along with a 9.7 K/9, which compares to the Volquez we saw in '08. Having arguably the best stuff in the rotation, it't not crazy to believe that we might in fact see the Volquez averaging 93.7 with his fastball and throwing a slider worth 2 or 3 runs. Surprisingly, Volquez's curveball was much more effective in '10 after the injury than it was before.
Nevertheless, as a Red Volquez holds a 2.0 K/BB ratio and as long as he does the same over the course of a full healthy year, he's in line to earn a solid raise. A future extension could be in the cards, but it is way too early to discuss that. He's projected to be worth 10.7 dollars according to Bill James, probably translating to something around $1MM-$1.5MM which will be discussed a year from now although Volquez and the Reds need to work something out before the upcoming season.
So the question is: will Volquez regain his pre-injury form? Or are we to believe that the supposed PEDs really did affect his performance? As is, Volquez is still young, and his stuff might even be slightly better after he returned from surgery, so only time will tell whether we will see the 2008 Volquez -- or a different one.