By many young baseball players’ standards, recent graduate Vince Voiro is living the dream.
The star pitcher, who went 5-3 in his senior season with a 2.45 earned run average, was drafted in the 15th round by the Oakland Athletics. He was then sent to play for the Arizona League Athletics, a minor-league affiliate of the A’s.
“I found out I got picked, and then I was out there within about a week,” the Cherry Hill, N.J., native said. “And then three or four days after that, I was practicing with the team. There’s no orientation or anything like that, they just kind of throw you right in.”
It did not take long, however, for Voiro to settle into the routine.
He said his practice day includes running and stretching, throwing, batting practice and defense practice. The team does not practice for more than two hours out in the blistering Arizona heat, and games typically start around 7 p.m.
“I definitely had some catching up to do, since the Ivy League season ended so early. But once I was in the swing of things, I started to feel good,” Voiro said.
Although the AZL Athletics are primarily rookies and players on rehab assignments, this by no means makes them a homogenous group. The current roster includes players drafted out of both high school and college, plus players hailing from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
“Everyone gets along really well,” Voiro said. “I was surprised because I wasn’t sure how competitive it was going to be and how people would react to being here. But it’s a really good group of guys. Plus we’ve been winning, which always helps.”
The AZL Athletics are currently 11-4 and second in the Arizona League East standings, behind the AZL Cubs (12-4) and well ahead of third-place AZL Giants (8-8).
Voiro certainly contributed to those wins. He made his debut on June 24 against the AZL Indians and pitched a no-run, no-hit inning of relief. He came on in relief again against the Indians on June 26, striking out three and holding opponents hitless and runless in one inning of work. Voiro did not let up a hit until his third outing against the AZL Brewers.
“It’s a building-up process. It’s partly about getting as many guys throwing in the game as possible, but they’re also managing you — if you’re not ready to be throwing a lot of innings, they don’t want you to do it,” Voiro said.
His first start came against the AZL Mariners. Voiro gave up three hits and one earned run, but struck out two over three innings.
In total, Voiro has a 1.29 ERA, has a 1-0 record and has given up one run on four hits through seven innings.
As a team, the AZL Athletics have the second-best team ERA with 4.02, second only to the AZL Cubs’ 3.87. Voiro has the best ERA of pitchers who have thrown in four games or more.
His impressive performance thus far can be attributed mostly to his lifelong hard work at the game, but also to his career as a Quaker.
“I definitely felt prepared coming in. College baseball is a grind because it’s all year long, and so is playing here. [I was ready for] having practice and games almost every day.”
Ideally, Voiro’s next step would be to move up to the Athletics’ Short Season A team, the Vermont Lake Monsters, based in Burlington.
“The majority of people move up to Vermont from here, so that’s what I’m hoping for,” Voiro said.
The next step up from Vermont is the Iowa-based Burlington Bees, the Athletics’ full-season A team, then the Advanced A Stockton Ports (Stockton, Calif.), the AA Midland RockHounds (Midland, Texas) and finally the AAA Sacramento River Cats.
At the moment, Voiro has no idea where he stands, and he said it is likely to stay that way.
“They really don’t tell you much — I was happy when they moved me into a starting role because that’s where I’m more comfortable, but beyond that, we’re really at their disposal. It all depends on where they need guys and where they see you,” Voiro said.
But for now, Voiro is happy just to be playing.
“I get to practice baseball and I get to play baseball,” he said. “It’s pretty much the best thing I could ask for.”