Redleg Nation is taking a look at our young hurler Edinson Volquez. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here. The Reds traded Josh Hamilton for him and he’s earned a rotation spot for the 2007 Reds. So what can we expect from Volquez?

To get an idea, we’re taking a look at his past. Following the 2005 season, Volquez was considered one of the better pitching prospects in baseball. The 2006 season didn’t go as well for him and the baseball world seemed to be pretty down on him. However, he turned things around in 2007.

In their 2008 book, Baseball Prospectus had a brighter view of his chances:

After struggling tremendously in his auditions the last two years, Volquez was sent all the way back down to to High-A to regain his confidence. It was a big risk, but it worked. By the time Volquez was back in Triple-A, he was absolutely dominant, and he found his first taste of success in the big leagues with two quality starts in six September attempts. He was subsequently dealt to the Reds for Josh Hamilton in what basically amounts to an “I’ll give you my talented guy who could go backward at any minute and you give me yours” trade.

It appears the Rangers did think Volquez had confidence issues and it was a bold move but, in hindsight, seemed to make sense and was successful. They knew they still had a good arm and wanted to rebuild his confidence. Toronto tried a similar trick with Roy Halladay in 2001 after his awful 2000 season.

The Hardball Times 2008 Season Preview looks at Volquez:

Texas sent Volquez down to High-A Bakersfield last year in an attempt to correct the control issues that jeopardized his future. He didn’t show any improvement there, but displayed much better control in Double-A and Triple-A, cutting his walks by 40 percent with no detriment to his terrific strikeout rate. Back in Texas, he still struggled with free passes at times, but otherwise looked like a major league pitcher. If he can complete the development of his curve to accentuate his mid-90’s fastball and killer changeup, he’ll be Cincinnati’s second-best starter.

So coming out of his 2007 season, it looks like Volquez has regained his status in the baseball community as a top young arm. Add in his spring performance and what some have been saying about him in spring training:

A scout we know announced to a large delegation of onlookers the other day: “The best trade this winter was Edinson Volquez for Josh Hamilton.”

And after that Josh Hamilton riff a few paragraphs to the north, you would probably agree — except that this scout meant it the other way around. That’s how dazzling Volquez has been this spring.

“Unbelievable movement,” said a coach of one of those teams. … “Electric stuff,” gushed one scout. … “His changeup is really, really, really dirty,” said Bako.

Edinson Volquez still needs to get it done in the majors but he’s done all he can to prepare himself for that by regaining his confidence in the minors and by winning the spring training challenge for a rotation spot. The challenge for Dusty Baker will be able to handle him in a manner that helps him keep his confidence when he struggles and build it when he succeeds. Spring is the season of hope and Edinson Volquez is part of a young group of talent that is bringing hope to Reds fans.