SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—Austin Voth has steadily climbed the Nationals’ top prospect rankings each of the last three years, rising all the way to No. 9 entering the 2016 season.
With more outings like the ones he is delivering this month in the Arizona Fall League start, the 24-year-old righthander is in good shape to keep climbing even higher.
Voth pitched five scoreless innings with only three hits allowed on Wednesday afternoon, stifling host Salt River’s offense and pacing the way for a 10-0 Glendale victory.
It was Voth’s second consecutive start throwing five scoreless innings with only three hits allowed.
“I’m just in sync right now,” he said. “One of the things I’m working on is sitting back on the rubber and not falling forward and I felt like I did that great today. My first outing that I had five scoreless it could have been ‘Oh, it just wasn’t the hitters day.’ But to follow it up with another good outing is progress on my part.”
Voth, a 2013 fifth-round pick out of Washington, kept the Rafters on their heels with an array of pristinely located 88-90 mph cut fastballs, late-sinking 82-83 mph changeups and diving 74-77 mph curveballs.
He struck out three, walked none, and induced nine groundouts to just one flyout. His curveball was particularly effective, drawing off-balance swings in the dirt and weak ground balls to various hitters’ pull side.
“It really started the beginning of the season,” Voth said. “I definitely worked on (my curveball) a bunch, tried a couple of new grips and stuck with one that I really liked and it’s been my go-to sometimes. It helps to have that third pitch. Definitely having that curveball as well as my changeup to go with a fastball I can locate is key.”
It was the type of outing representative of Voth’s career path. Despite below-average velocity, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Redmond, Wash., native led the Nationals organization in strikeouts in 2014 and ’15, and tied for the lead in 2016.
“Locating pitches, that’s the key to any pitchers success,” Glendale catcher Garrett Stubbs (Astros) said. “You’ve got guys that throw 95, even 100, but if you throw it over the middle of the plate, guys in this league and the big leagues are good enough to hit it. Voth goes out there and executes his pitches, and when you’ve got a guy who can locate and execute pitches out there, it makes everyone’s job real easy.”
With Voth rolling, Glendale’s offense turned the game into a rout early. Stubbs drew a bases-loaded walk and Osvaldo Abreu (Nationals) delivered a two-run single in the fourth to make it 4-0.
Harrison Bader (Cardinals) hit a two-run single to highlight a four-run fifth, and Bader capped the Desert Dogs’ outburst with a two-run triple in the sixth to make it 10-0.
“We’ve got a great defense and our offense has been scoring a lot of runs,” Voth said. “I know as long as I throw strikes, I can count on them.”
NEWS AND NOTES
• Glendale first baseman Cody Bellinger (Dodgers) finished 3-for-5 with a double and two runs scored. The Arizona native extended his hit streak to nine games and is now hitting .352/.435/.593 this fall.