Nathan Karns, BA’s #15 Carolina League Prospect

Given their fetish preference towards youth, it’s a bit of a surprise that Nathan Karns made the cut for Baseball America’s 2012 Carolina League Top 20 Prospects.

It’s the latest accolade for the 24-year-old Texan drafted in the 12th round in 2009, who was named the Nationals’ Minor-League Pitcher of the year last month and was a GBI regular all season long. Sean Hogan has the backstory today on his journey from sleeper to mystery man to the 2012 MiLBY Starting Pitcher Year Candidate.

Here’s the skinny from the BA Scouting Report:

Karns works in the low 90s and touches 95 mph with his fastball. He throws his heater on a downhill plane, and it can jump on hitters coming out of his retooled delivery. His sharp downer curveball can be a plus pitch when he locates it consistently. Karns'[sic] changeup has the makings of becoming an average pitch after he worked hard on it this year. The development of his third pitch and how he handles the workload of another full season will help determine if he sticks in the rotation or moves to the bullpen.

It’s a bit mystifying to me why Karns is not getting the credit for his slider, which is his strikeout pitch when he’s locating his fastball. I put that in italics because late in the season, when he showing signs of fatigue, batters began holding off on the pitch. My gut still says he’ll eventually become a reliever, but like all pitchers, I’d prefer to see them start for as long as they can until the batters tell them it’s time to try a new role.

As always, if I spot something in the BA chat, I’ll update this post.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

8 thoughts on “Nathan Karns, BA’s #15 Carolina League Prospect”

  1. Guess AA ball with tell the tale of starter versus closer/back end reliever. It was a big adjustment for Danny Rosenbaum but not so much for Tommy Milone. As did Bradley Meyers to an extent.

    Strasburg just ran right through it. Seems like Ryan Perry did the same.

    Have to see how Meyer and Karns and perhaps Solis do with it next season.

    1. If so, I’d love to know how he throws it so that it breaks about 12″ away from the plate on a lateral plane.

      1. I don’t know from where you watch games….. Unless you go from word a mouth. Pretty positive it’s a curve ask around. Get a clue

        1. I have season tickets behind home plate at Potomac and I saw Karns pitch seven (7) times (you can read the gamers here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).

          Because my seats are askew and above home plate, it’s certainly possible that I’m misreading the break on his pitches, however, if I am, so is this guy and this guy, both of whom have more scouting chops than I do.

          1. Sickels is saying hard curve, too, and he has the ears of scouts. So, like I said in the first place, Karns throws it hard enough that it breaks like a slider.

  2. Nice write up and link. Sean does a good job of talking of his absence all that time, when we all in the dark. He also makes the common mistake of thinking a pitchers age is very relevant, when it’s not.
    BA harps of how his delivery is too high effort to make it as a starter long term. I’ll defer to the scouts here on that one.
    Let’s be honest, a starters value is 10X that of a reliever at this level, projection-wise.

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