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May 28, 2013

The Call-Up

Nate Karns

by Mark Anderson and Bret Sayre


The Situation: Following a breakout 2012 season, Karns seemed destined for another full season in the minor leagues blocked by a loaded Washington rotation. With just one injury, though, things can change, and they changed to Karns’ benefit when Ross Detwiler injured his oblique, creating a need for another starter.

Background: After battling inconsistency at North Carolina State and Texas Tech, Karns’ draft stock plummeted in 2009, as he was routinely touched up throughout the spring. He was finally popped in the 12th round by the Nationals and signed for $225,000. Almost immediately after signing, Karns came up lame with a torn labrum and missed the remainder of the 2009 season and all of 2010. Back on the hill in 2011, Karns posted a solid 3.44 ERA in eight starts for the New York-Penn League’s Auburn Doubledays. His breakout came in 2012 with good health and monster showings at both Low-A and High-A.  On the season, he recorded a 2.17 ERA in 116 innings with just 70 hits allowed, 47 walks, and 148 punchouts. Karns has handled the jump to Double-A reasonably well this season, pitching to a 4.60 ERA in nine starts, allowing less than a hit per inning, and fanning 11 batters per nine.

Scouting Report: Karns is physically imposing, standing 6’5” and checking in around 230 pounds. He uses his height to generate a good angle to the plate, making his sinking fastball even more difficult to barrel consistently. Karns’ 93-95 mph velocity gives his heater better than plus grades, allowing him to miss bats and induce weak contact low in the zone. He compliments his primary pitch with a classic overhand hammer curveball that has earned plus-plus grades on occasion. The one-two punch provided by his fastball and curve can be deadly when he has control over both. However, Karns lacks a passable changeup and will likely always be a two-pitch guy. His delivery can get away from him at times, thanks to some effort throughout, but he does throw strikes. Karns doesn’t spot well and will never have the command or depth in his arsenal to profile as more than a no. 3 or no. 4 sta

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Related Content:  Prospects,  Scouting,  Nationals,  Nate Karns

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