Stevenson scores game's lone run, Voth hurls five two-hit frames, Lee strikes out side
By Mike Rosenbaum
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Washington Nationals' farm system was on display in an Arizona Fall League win Tuesday, as Andrew Stevenson, Austin Voth and Nick Lee led the Glendale Desert Dogs in a 1-0 shutout of the Surprise Saguaros at Surprise Field.
Stevenson, the Nationals No. 8 prospect, accounted for Glendale's only run, as he opened the game with a single to center field before scoring on Nick Tanielu's (Astros) two-out single. He also drew a walk in the contest to finish 1-for-3.
"As a leadoff hitter, I'm just trying to get on base," Stevenson said. "But if I get a pitch I can handle, I'm going to take a hack at it. Today, [Surprise starting pitcher Stephen Gonsalves] gave me a fastball out over the plate and I put a good swing on it."
The 22-year-old outfielder is wrapping a strong Fall League campaign that's seen him hit .359 with a .945 OPS, eight extra-base hits and seven stolen bases in 19 games for the Desert Dogs. Making Stevenson's performance all the more impressive is that it comes on the heels of his first full pro campaign, during which he hit .276/.332/.374 with 36 extra-base hits and 39 steals between Class A Advanced Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg.
"It's been a long first full season for me, and you can tell my legs are starting to feel it," Stevenson, the Nationals' second-round Draft pick in 2015, said. "But overall health-wise, I feel pretty good."
Stevenson's run in the first inning was all the support that Voth, who was named the AFL Pitcher of the Week earlier in the day, would need. The Nationals' No. 9 prospect recorded his third straight scoreless start for the Desert Dogs, allowing two hits in five innings. The 24-year-old struck out three and issued three walks while throwing 46 of his 83 pitches for strikes.
"It was my last start of the year, so I was just trying to put everything out there -- give it everything I got," said Voth, who posted a 3.15 ERA over 157 innings (27 games/25 starts) for Triple-A Syracuse during the regular season. "I had good command of my fastball and changeup today and feel like I did a good job keeping hitters off balance. I kinda got tired a little early, but had enough in the tank to finish it."
Playing center field behind Voth, Stevenson couldn't help but be impressed with his teammate's outing.
"You can't ask for anything better -- two hits in five innings. He dominated today," Stevenson said. "He's been throwing great; he's a really good pitcher. He's not an overpowering guy but mixes his pitches, and you can tell that hitters really have to lock in when they're facing him."
Since allowing a combined 17 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings across his first four Fall League starts, Voth has rattled off 15 consecutive scoreless innings with eight hits allowed in his last three turns. Overall, he pitched to a 5.16 ERA over seven starts in the Fall League, tallying 23 strikeouts and 11 walks in 29 2/3 innings.
"Working on my mechanics, getting those down, and also the development of my changeup," Voth said of turnaround in the Fall League. "It's been my go-to pitch when I'm behind in counts or when I need a ground ball. I know I can hitters out with my fastball-curveball combination, but having another pitch that I can add to my repertoire is great for me."
Lee replaced Voth in the sixth inning and promptly struck out the side. The 25-year-old southpaw has pitched to a 1.64 ERA in his second tour of the Fall League, compiling 14 strikeouts against nine walks in 11 innings (nine appearances).
Gonsalves, 22, was a tough-luck loser for Surprise despite turning in his best Fall League start. The Twins' No. 3 prospect -- MLBPipeline.com's No. 85 overall prospect -- scattered three hits over three innings after yielding one run on two hits in the first. The left-hander recorded six swinging strikeouts, his highest strikeout total in four AFL starts, without issuing a walk and needed just 38 pitches (25 strikes) to complete his outing.
With Tuesday's win, Glendale (15-15) trails Surprise (16-13-1) by 1 1/2 games in the AFL West division with two regular-season games remaining. The AFL's two division winners will meet in a one-game playoff for the league title on Saturday.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.