Jul 172012
 

A leadoff walk, a stolen base, and three singles and things were looking bleak for the pitcher in the first. Then, a grand slam. In the space of just a few minutes, it’s a 5-0 deficit.

Rolling your eyes, are you? This happened in the bottom of the first.

Highlighted by Michael Taylor’s first home run of the season (the grand slam), the Potomac Nationals started strong with a five-run first and cruised to a 14-0 pummeling of the Lynchburg Hillcats.

Of course, it was a baker’s dozen more runs that Nathan Karns needed as the 24-year-old continues to roll through the Carolina League, lowering his ERA to 2.12 with six shutout innings, one hit and two walks allowed, and six strikeouts.

Karns has yet to be tested against the class of the Carolina League (Winston-Salem), but as P-Nats play-by-play man Tim Swartz tweeted last night, Karns is making the case to be the best prospect in the system at this moment. His last six starts: 40IP, 19H, 10BB, 50K, and a 0.75ERA. As written previously, the twin trends of reduced walks and increased (and improved) use of his breaking pitches have been the keys to this string of success.

Potomac did lose steam after the grand slam, but credit should go to Lynchburg’s pitcher Aaron Northcraft for bearing down. The Hillcat righty retired 15 of 16 batters before Jason Martinson’s single to right opened up a three-run rally in the 6th, as Taylor ripped a double down the left field line to send the shortstop to third and Stephen King plated the two with a single up the middle against the drawn-in infield.

The 7th inning also started slowly, with the Lynchburg left fielder muffing a Ricky Hague flyball. After Xavier Nady grounded to short to complete his 0-for-4 night, David Freitas drew a walk, Martinson sliced a liner to right for a triple to drive in Hague and Freitas. Following a walk to Taylor, a King RBI single, Kevin Keyes completing the scoring binge by putting a coat on hanger by Hillcat reliever Caleb Brewer for his team-leading 13th homer and RBI nos. 48, 49, and 50.

With the outcome of the game certain, Karns was lifted and the Potomac ‘pen given a chance to get some work done. Joe Testa delivered a 1-2-3 frame in the 7th while Adam Carr finished the game with just a walk allowed over the final two innings to complete the shutout, the fourth of the season for Potomac.

The win pulls the P-Nats to within two games of the ‘Cats for first place in the Carolina League Nothh, though they still inhabit the cellar of the four-team division. Veteran Adam Olbrychowski (4-7, 5.54) gets the start tonight, opposed by Lynchburg southpaw Dimasther Delgado (5-4, 3.62).

  12 Responses to “Last Night In Woodbridge”

  1. Glad to see Karns pitching well. I haven’t been following the farm too closely this year, but (not meaning to quibble) can a 24 yr old in High A really be in the running for ‘best prospect in the system’? Wouldn’t that say more about the state of the system?

    And is it really Michael Taylor’s first HR?

    • I guess youve not seen him pitch or seen his numbers. To bad age and money is what matters to most as a prospect not talent.

      • Ross – clearly, I haven’t seen him pitch and I am glad that he is doing well, for him and the organization. But isn’t prospect analysis more about projection than current results? I had thought that is why scouts, pundits, etc usually discount to some degree an older guy’s success against younger competition, because they are less confident that it will continue as he faces older and more experienced competition.

        Let me ask you a question – if you were a GM of another team and making a trade with the Nats, and Rizzo says ‘you can have any guy in the minor leagues’, is Karns the guy that you take?

        • I think too much emphasis is put on “projection.” I’ll take a guy producing over a guy that may produce later.

    • Karns is a bit of an exception because he missed two years to injury. It’s not to say that he should be regarded as a 22-year-old, but it’s something to be considered.

      Yes, that was Michael Taylor’s first HR but he’s been hitting gap doubles all season long. He’s not grown into his full weight, IMO.

  2. Wally,
    I hope im wrong because it will be a mistake in my mind but any trade the nats make will probably include karns. Like luke said he was injured for a couple of yrs. Hes
    highly warranted by many teams.

    • Ross – thx. Any guess if they promote him to AA? Rizzo hasn’t seemed too quick to do that.

      I have a hunch that the Nats will not be too active this trading deadline; there really aren’t a lot of open spots for them to do something. But who knows?

      • I think Doug Harris, the minor league director, would probably make that decision to move Karns to “dubs”. I think….. Am I correct Luke?

        • The decision is generally Harris’s, but I don’t think Karns is going anywhere for at least another month.

  3. I honestly thought they would havr promoted him already. I think he has proven himself at this level. I have heard that the nats only promote one level a yr i hope thats not true. I would sure like to see what he does at next level. The nats have to make a descision on him one way or another because of r5 eligiblity.

    • It is mostly true (one level per year below AA), but Karns is a good candidate to get promoted for AFL purposes (unless he gets hurt, in which case I can totally envision him being shut down so they can use the injury to try to sneak him through the Rule 5).

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