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Washington Nationals: Austin Voth trying to rebuild top prospect status

After a down season in 2017, Washington Nationals pitching prospect Austin Voth is off to a good start in 2018 as he tries to climb back up the rankings. 

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

When looking at the Washington Nationals last season, many people thought Austin Voth had an opportunity to make his big league debut with a strong Triple-A season. Unfortunately, the right-hander struggled mightily. In 24 starts, he was 4-12 with a 5.94 ERA in between Syracuse and Double-A Harrisburg.

Due to that disappointing season where opponents hit .302 against Voth, John dropped the 25-year-old right-hander from the sixth spot in his rankings before 2017 to an others of note column this year. Keep in this mind that Voth was a pitcher that had a chance to make his debut in 2016 when the Nationals decided to call-up Lucas Giolito.

However, as is seen often in minor league baseball, you never know when something might click. It has only been one month, but Voth has been able to bounce back in a big way. In his first four starts, he is 1-0 with a 0.96 ERA and has 22 strikeouts to two walks in 18.2 innings.

Voth was a part of history on April 18 against the Indianapolis Indians when he was one of four pitchers that combined to throw a seven-inning no-hitter. The key for him has been his command of the strike zone as he has thrown 67.5 percent of his pitches for strikes.

Now, Voth has never been known for having an unhittable fastball. His fastball is around the low 90s in terms of velocity, but his offspeed pitches will be the thing that decides whether or not he gets a chance to be at the back end of a big league rotation. Here is what Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs had to say about those pitches back in March 2017:

“He has a deceptive, overhand delivery and hides the ball well, which allows the fastball and an above-average, low-80s slider with late wipe to play up a bit. He also sports a below-average mid-70s curveball and pitched with a below-average changeup last year, though he was working with a new grip by the fall and it might improve with reps.”

Back in the offseason, the Nats made a few changes by shuffling pitching coaches across the minor league levels. The Chiefs’ pitching coach this year is Brad Holman. He was the bullpen coach for the Texas Rangers each of the last two seasons and was a pitching coach across the minor leagues from 2002-2015.

Now, the Chiefs have only played 17 games and the majority of them have come in freezing cold weather that has plagued upstate New York this month. With that being said, the team is 10-7 and their pitching has an ERA of 2.92, which is the second lowest in the International League.

When you look at this Chiefs rotation, they do have Erick Fedde as the headline prospect, but most of it is filled with journeyman players such as Edwin Jackson and Tommy Milone as well as a 26-year-old in Cesar Vargas.

Voth is still on the 40-man roster, so the fifth round pick from 2013 can still make his way to the big leagues if he can bounce back at Syracuse this season. If the first month is any indication, then we could be seeing him rise back up a prospect list for the Nats given the lack of intriguing arms in the upper tiers of the system.