It's a small sample size, but Edinson Volquez is looking like his former, All-Star self in his first year with the Padres. (Photo by Rich Pilling/Getty Images)
When the Padres traded Mat Latos to the Reds in December. young sluggers Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal were the centerpieces of the trade. Veteran pitcher Edinson Volquez was not exactly and afterthought, but he probably wasn't the first guy Padres General Manager Josh Byrnes asked for.
At least in 2012, it's looking like Volquez will make a bigger splash than any other guy in the trade, Latos included.
Friday night in a Cactus League game against his former team, Edinson pitched in to the 6th inning, his longest Spring outing as a Padre. Volquez threw 80 pitches, the last one a 94-mph fastball that moved a couple inches, freezing former NL MVP Joey Votto for Edinson's 6th strikeout. It sure looked like he arrived at the game in a DeLorean.
In 2008, a then-24-year-old Volquez won 17 games and pitched in the All-Star game for the Reds. But, as he's done with several young pitchers before (see Wood, Kerry and Prior, Mark), Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker overworked the kid.
In 2009, Volquez needed reconstructive elbow surgery. Over the next two years he got physically healthy, but it seemed like he never fully recovered mentally.
One thing the Padres excel in is returning pitchers to the former glory. Bud Black and Darren Balsley are kind of like "The Pitcher Whisperers." They take guys with immense talent, rebuild them, and in a lot of cases make them even better than they were before (see Garland, Jon and Harang, Aaron).
Volquez has his old velocity and movement back, and so far he's not suffering the fits of wildness that plagued him in Cincy. Plus, he's only 27 years old. This is the time a lot of pitchers enter their prime. If he won 17 games in a launching pad like Great American Ballpark as a kid, what's he going to do at PETCO Park as a seasoned veteran?
I'm curious, and excited, to find out.