ANAHEIM -- The Angels believe there may be some upside left in Chris Volstad. And though they aren't counting on him to be more than a Triple-A starting pitcher next season, his age, his size, his Draft history and his clean bill of health made them feel he was at least worth taking a shot on.
"As a scouting package, there's a reason why Chris Volstad was a first-round Draft pick," said Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto, who finalized a Minor League contract with the 27-year-old right-hander on Wednesday.
"There's a reason why he was well thought of as a prospect, and there's a reason why through his years with the Marlins, everybody was waiting for the big turn of the corner, and hopefully we're able to bring that out of him. I know he's committed to it and he's working hard, and he believes it's in there. Sometimes, guys just need a different voice."
Volstad, who will be invited to Spring Training, was the 16th overall pick by the Marlins in 2005. The 6-foot-8 righty had a solid rookie season in '08, posting a 2.88 ERA in 15 games (14 starts), but was never able to duplicate that.
Over the next four years, the last of which was spent with the Cubs, Volstad compiled a 5.14 ERA and averaged 153 innings per season. Last year, he spent the vast majority of the season -- minus six relief appearances -- pitching for the Rockies' Triple-A affiliate in the Pacific Coast League, posting a 4.58 ERA, a 1.57 WHIP and a 1.30 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 127 2/3 innings.
Now, he's in the Dominican Republic, working on a cutter and looking to replace a hard slider with a big curveball.
His agent, Bill Rose, said five other teams were interested in his client -- none of which he wanted to name -- and believes Volstad is "on the verge of becoming a big-time pitcher."
"The opportunity is terrific, I think, with the Angels," said Rose, who has known Volstad since he was 15. "And even if they sign [Jason] Vargas or whatever, Chris is going to get an opportunity. They want to get him, as we do, to where we think he should be. Chris should be a 15- to 18-game winner, year in and year out in the big leagues. He's got that kind of stuff."
Volstad joins relievers Josh Wall and Robert Carson as minor pitching additions in the early portion of the offseason. But unlike the latter two, Volstad is not on the 40-man roster. And by the end of the offseason, he will probably have joined a slew of six-year free agents obtained on Minor League contracts, as the Angels look to fill out their Triple-A roster while waiting for the lower levels of their Minor League system to develop.
"As much as anything, you're getting a guy who's still young, who has upside potential, who has plenty of Major League experience," Dipoto said. "And albeit while he's had successes and has had failures, he understands what it's about to pitch at the big league level, and just the untapped upside that exists with Chris is very intriguing."