The Undercards: Nate Karns Hit Hard in Second Straight Start

By Robbie Knopf

Pitching prospects can drive us insane. We know about the potential, but from control issues to injuries to drug suspensions, there are just so many things that can go wrong. Nate Karns and Blake Snell showed us the good and the bad for Durham and Bowling Green respectively as both teams suffered defeats.

Triple-A International League: Charlotte Knights 8, Durham Bulls 2

The good news for Nate Karns was that after 7 walks in his first start, his second start was going to be better by default. Unfortunately, it was not superior by that much. Karns tossed shutout ball for the first 2 innings, but he allowed 1 run in the 3rd, 2 more in the 4th, and 3 to finish him off in the 5th as he allowed 6 runs on 8 hits in 4.2 innings. On the positive side, he did strike out 9 while walking 3. Karns is facing a classic case of the jitters after the Rays gave him an outside chance to win their fifth starter job and he pitched quite well. Hopefully he can show further improvement in his next outing.

Behind Karns, Juan Carlos Oviedo showed that he is getting closer to big league ready, tossing a perfect inning with 2 strikeouts in the second of back-to-back games. Adam Liberatore also had a nice game, tossing 1.1 innings of 1-hit ball, also striking out 2. The on the offensive side, Justin Christian had a 2-run double for the Durham runs. Not too many positives from this game, but at a certain point, you just have to take what you get.

Low-A Midwest League: Burlington Bees (LAA) 3, Bowling Green Hot Rods 0

It is never fun to get 2-hit. The 2 hits came from Granden Goetzman, who continues his red-hot start to the year, and Kean Wong, who has followed up his .326 stint in the GCL with a .286 (4 for 14) start at Low-A. Goetzman also had a walk and a hit-by-pitch as he continues to be a very difficult out to begin the year. That was it for the offense, but the pitching was interesting. Blake Snell made his season debut for Bowling Green and went 4.2 innings allowing 2 runs on 2 hits, striking out 7 while walking 3. He showed swing-and-miss stuff, but he labored and his control came and went. Nevertheless, it is nice to see him pitching solidly to begin the year (just look at Karns for a pitcher in the opposite situation), and hopefully he can provide more length in future outings. Then after Stone Speer allowed a run in 2.1 innings pitched, Ian Kendall retired the final 4 batters of the game, 3 via the strikeout. Kendall did not pitch at all last season because of injuries, but the former fifth rounder has flashed a mid-90’s fastball and a sharp curveball when healthy. If he keeps pitching well, he could be yet another interesting Rays relief prospect.