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The Texas Rangers created buzz early in the season when they decided to send 23-year-old pitcher Edinson Volquez – who had split time between Triple-A and the Major Leauges in 2006 – to High-A Bakersfield to start the 2007 season.
After struggling to throw strikes consistently in 2006, the Rangers decided to work the hard-throwing righty through the minors once again, hoping to re-develop his mechanics, fastball command, and mental maturity.
Volquez got off to a rough start with the Blaze, as he was 0-4 with a 7.13 earned run average in seven starts. Though opposing hitters were getting to him at just a .211 clip, he still struggled to throw strikes at times, walking 20 batters in 35 1/3 innings.
The right-hander believes part of the reason for his struggles were due to mechanical changes.
"When I was in Bakersfield, I was working on my mechanics," said Volquez.
Volquez has been much better since being promoted to Double-A Frisco, where he is a perfect 6-0 with a 3.57 ERA in seven starts. Just like in Bakersfield, opponents are hitting only .211 off him. However, in 40 1/3 innings, Volquez has issued just 15 walks.
Volquez believes the key to his success has been getting comfortable with his new mechanics.
"I'm starting to figure out how to throw strikes with my mechanics," he said. "I used to step back, but now my first step of my windup is on the side. It is working better now."
The native of the Dominican Republic also says he hasn't really made any mechanical adjustments since joining the RoughRiders in mid-May.
"They aren't working too much with my mechanics right now," said Volquez. "We're just working on my fastball command. It is a lot better than last year."
Aside from the solid statistics, Rangers minor league pitching coordinator Rick Adair is pleased with the mental progress Volquez has made this season.
"We're more pleased with the things you don't see," said Adair. "He's matured, he's learning how to process things, and he's learning how to think a lot more clearly in competition. We're real happy with the progress he's made."
While Volquez is pitching well with Frisco, many are beginning to wonder whether the Rangers will eventually promote him to Triple-A Oklahoma, where he made 21 starts last season.
"I don't know," said Volquez when asked if he would go to Oklahoma at some point this year. "But I hope to stay here."
Currently battling blisters on his right thumb, Volquez was happy to see the arrival of the Texas League All-Star break.
"We play too many games in a row so a couple of days off were good," said Volquez. "I was just hanging out in my apartment, resting, and watching TV."
Volquez also believes the time off has helped his blisters heal.
"[The blisters] are pretty good right now," he said. "This is the best it has looked this year, so tomorrow [June 29] I'm going to pitch."
After the 2007 season is over in the United States, Volquez plans on going back and playing winterball in the Dominican Republic.
"This year I think I'm going to be on a team around November or December, but not at the beginning of the season," said Volquez. "I think it's good for a young guy to play winterball. There are some good hitters and Major League players over there. It's a good experience."
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Adjustments help Volquez excel in Frisco
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