Rangers righthander Edinson Volquez is starting over.
Volquez, who ranked as the organization’s top prospect a year ago, has pitched well through the system since he was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2001.
It’s been the level that matters that’s caused him fits.
Volquez’s career 9.20 ERA is the highest in baseball’s modern era for a pitcher with at least 10 career starts. The 23-year-old went 6-6, 3.21 with 130 strikeouts in 121 Triple-A innings last season, earning his second promotion to the big leagues in as many years.
That’s where everything fell apart. Volquez went 1-6, 7.29 and allowed 27 runs in just 33 big league innings.
So the Rangers got serious with Volquez this spring, and wound up sending him to high Class A Bakersfield to start the season–a level he hadn’t pitched at since early in 2005–to get back to the basics.
It was a tough decision to make, and one everyone in the Rangers front office–including the major league and minor league field staff–was involved in.
“It basically came down to whether we wanted to continue developing him as a long man, as a reliever, or whether we wanted to take a chance,” Rangers director of player personnel Scott Servais said. “In the end we decided we want to do everything we can to make him a top-of-the-rotation guy.
“We believe in him. And he will pitch for the Texas Rangers in the majors again.”
The initial timetable was to get Volquez five starts with the Blaze before moving him. Servais refused to say whether or not that was still the case, and after Volquez went 0-1, 15.75 in his first two starts, that timetable seems to be in limbo now.
“How long will he be there? I just don’t know,” Servais said. “There’s a lot going on with him right now. It takes a lot more to be a major league pitcher than just being able to throw 96, 97 miles-an-hour.”
Volquez seems to be making strides, however. He threw six shutout innings, allowed just two hits and struck out eight against Stockton on Wednesday.
“It’s getting him to understand what it’s like to make decisions on the mound,” Servais said. “So when he gets himself in a situation with runners on base or whatever the situation is, to be able to control that situation.
“It’s not so much knowing what to throw when as much as it is being able to dissect any given situation and understanding how to best attack. We put him in Bakersfield because we wanted him to go through this with the least amount of pressure as possible. As an organization, we know the media scrutiny that comes along with making a decision like this, but we know this guy is a major league pitcher and we want him to reach that ceiling.”
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