WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2012 – 10:37 AM
Scott Lacefield (Twitter: @ScottLacefield)
Former Texas Tech RHP Nathan Karns had a Low-A and High-A season to remember in 2012. This morning Karns was recognized by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect of the Washington Nationals’ organization.
Karns, who was already selected as the Nationals’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year – by both the Nationals and Baseball America – is among elite company on Baseball America’s list as he is the only prospect among the top five taken after the fifth round. Karns was a 12th round pick out of Texas Tech in 2009 by the Nationals.
Karns dominated in 2012 with an 11-4 record, 2.17 ERA, 24 outings (18 starts) with two complete games, 116.0 innings pitched and 148 strikeouts. Last month Karns was added to the Nationals 40-man roster.
BASEBALL AMERICA ON NATHAN KARNS:
Background: Karns has flashed power stuff since his high school days in Texas, but his command held him back in college at North Carolina State and Texas Tech. He appeared to turn the corner in 2009 in the Texas Collegiate League, where he ranked as the top prospect before signing for $225,000 as a 12th-round pick, but he tore the labrum in his shoulder shortly afterward and didn’t pitch again until 2011. He came out of nowhere to lead the minors in opponent average (.174) in his 2012 full-season debut.
Scouting Report: Karns throws a heavy fastball at 92-94 mph, topping out at 96. He always has been able to get hitters to chase his downer curveball, a low-80s hammer with depth and finish, and he improved his ability to throw it for strikes last season. His curve should become a true plus pitch as he continues to learn to repeat it, and his changeup has a chance to be average. He has smoothed out his delivery somewhat, and his command has improved so much that he has a chance to stick as a starter.
The Future: Added to the 40-man roster in November, Karns will advance to Double-A in 2013 and could reach Washington in the second half. He could be a mid-rotation workhorse or a late-inning reliever, depending on how his changeup and feel for pitching progress.