CHRIS VOLSTAD, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: September 23, 1986
Drafted: 1st Round, 16th Overall, 2005 (Marlins)
How Acquired: Minor League Free Agent
High School: Palm Beach Gardens (FL) HS
Agent: Moye Sports Associates
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Volstad ranked high on prospect lists for his first several years in the minors, but he mostly struggled for several years in the majors with the Marlins, possibly due to being rushed. He largely collapsed in 2013-14. Despite being 6’8″, he doesn’t throw unusually hard, with his fastball averaging 91. He gets good enough sink that he’s had a high groundball rate in the minors and a moderately high one in the majors. He’s had gopher ball problems at times. Volstad also throws a curve and change, and has thrown a slider but stopped doing so in 2013. Left-handed and right-handed hitters have hit him for the same average for his career, but the former hit him for more power. The Pirates signed him to a minor league contract for 2015.
Volstad made six strong starts in rookie ball before the Marlins moved him up to the New York-Penn League for another seven starts. He had an even better ERA there, but his K rate was lower and he allowed more than a hit per inning, and a lot more baserunners overall. Baseball America rated him the 97th best prospect in baseball after the season.
The Marlins kept Volstad in low A all year and he a had strong season, recovering from a rough month in May to finish with strong numbers except for a low K rate. After the season, BA rated him the Marlins’ best prospect and the 40th best in baseball.
Volstad spent most of his season in high A, but moved up to AA for his last seven starts. He gave up a lot of hits at the lower level, with opponents batting .293 against him. He pitched better at AA, reducing his opponents’ average to .252, although his K rate dropped lower still. BA still rated him the Marlins’ second best prospect, and baseball’s 58th best, after the season.
Volstad opened in AA and pitched well there. The Marlins called him up in early July and he spent the rest of the season in their rotation. He pitched well in the majors, posting a high groundball rate (in fact it turned out to be the highest of his career) and holding opponents to a .322 slugging average.
Except for one start at the end of the minor league season, Volstad spent the year starting for the Marlins. He was undone largely by serious gopher ball problems, as he allowed 29 in just 159 innings. The impact is shown by his xFIP, which normalizes a pitcher’s rate of HRs per flyball. Volstad’s xFIP, at 4.29, was almost exactly a run lower than his ERA.
Volstad again spent the season with the Marlins, except this time he got sent down for a couple weeks in July. He cut the HRs to 17, but opponents still put up a .755 OPS against him, compared to .648 the previous year.
Volstad continued to be too hittable, with opponents batting 289/335/464 against him. The Marlins sent him to AAA in July — he had an 8.50 ERA for the month — before recalling him in August. He finished strongly, posting a 2.32 ERA in his last five starts.
In January, Miami traded Volstad to the Cubs in a dual change-of-scenery deal for Carlos Zambrano. The deal didn’t go well for anybody, with Volstad struggling mightily for Chicago. Opponents hammered him for a 306/365/482 line and his K rate dropped to a new low. The Cubs sent him to AAA twice and he didn’t pitch particularly well there. After the season, the Cubs lost Volstad to a waiver claim by the Royals, who then put him on waivers themselves. Volstad chose free agency and signed a minor league deal with the Rockies.
Colorado added Volstad to their roster at the end of spring training and moved him to the bullpen. After four outings, opponents were hitting .406 against him and the Rockies sent Volstad to AAA. He put up mediocre numbers there. Some of it may have been the fact that it was Colorado Springs and the Pacific Coast League, but his K rate dropped yet again. Colorado called him up in June, but in two appearances opponents went 6-for-12 against him with five extra-base hits. The Rockies designated him for assignment and Volstad spent the rest of the season in AAA.
Volstad signed with a Korean team for 2014, but was ineffective there, walking more than he struck out and giving up 116 hits in just 87 innings. The Angels signed him to a minor league deal in July and he finished the season with their AAA affiliate. He continued to struggle, allowing seven HRs in just 39.1 IP.
Volstad spent most of the season in the Indianapolis rotation. He got off to a slow start at Indianapolis, but by late June was pitching well. The Pirates called him up in late June after they had to use their bullpen heavily over a couple of games. He made one appearance and then was designated for assignment. He cleared waivers and went back to Indianapolis for the rest of the year. He did not get a September callup. Volstad didn’t dominate in AAA. Batters hit a solid .269 against him, but he didn’t walk many, had a high groundball rate, and allowed only three HRs. He had a fairly large platoon split, with left-handed batters posting a .748 OPS against him, compared to .615 for right-handed batters.
Volstad pitched well in 2015, but not well enough to be very attractive to major league teams, as he doesn’t miss enough bats. He’ll be a free agent again after the season.
2015: Minor league contract
|Signing Bonus: $1,600,000
MiLB Debut: 2005
MLB Debut: 7/6/2008
MiLB FA Eligible: 2015
MLB FA Eligible: 2016
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: 7/21/2008
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: ?, 2012, 2013)
MLB Service Time: 4.044
|June 7, 2005: Drafted in the 1st round, 16th overall, by the Florida Marlins; signed on June 9.
July 6, 2008: Contract purchased by the Florida Marlins.
January 5, 2012: Traded by the Miami Marlins to the Chicago Cubs for Carlos Zambrano and cash.
October 26, 2012: Claimed off waivers by the Kansas City Royals from the Chicago Cubs.
November 20, 2012: Designated for assignment by the Kansas City Royals; refused assignment and became a free agent on November 28.
January 20, 2013: Signed as a minor league free agent with the Colorado Rockies.
March 29, 2013: Called up by the Colorado Rockies.
June 20, 2013: Designated for assignment by the Colorado Rockies; outrighted to AAA on June 22.
October 4, 2013: Became a free agent.
July 18, 2014: Signed as a minor league free agent with the Los Angeles Angels.
November 4, 2014: Became a free agent.
January 28, 2015: Signed as a minor league free agent with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
June 24, 2015: Called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
June 28, 2015: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates; outrighted to AAA on July 2.