Karns Misses Bats For Nationals In Breakout Season





Best Player: Third baseman Matt Skole won the low Class A South Atlantic League MVP award and closed his first full season at high Class A Potomac. The 23-year-old spent most of the final month in the Carolina League, but still he maintained his SAL lead in home runs (27) and walks (94) after hitting .286/.438/.574 in 343 at-bats with Hagerstown. His on-base and slugging percentages also were tops in the league.

A fifth-round pick in 2011 out of Georgia Tech, Skole became the third Nationals farmhand to reach 100 RBIs in a season, joining first baseman Tyler Moore from 2010 and shortstop Jason Martinson—Skole's Hagerstown and Potomac teammate— from this season.

Best Pitcher: Righthander Nate Karns sneaked past 2011 first-rounder Alex Meyerto pace the organization in ERA (2.17) and strikeouts (148) while tying for second with 11 wins. Finally healthy, the 2009 12th-round pick from Texas Tech had easily his best year as a professional. The 24-year-old finished with a 1.01 WHIP in 116 innings for Hagerstown and Potomac.

"The thing I like about Karns is he competes," Potomac manager Brian Rupp said. "He's got a plus fastball, his curveball is a definite swing-and-miss pitch and he has worked on his changeup, even improved that. It has become a very usable pitch for him."

Keep An Eye On: Righthander Christian Garcia, a third-round pick of the Yankees in 2004, has endured two Tommy John surgeries, but the 27-year-old reliever consistently threw in the mid-90s during a dominant 2012. He earned a spot in the Arizona Fall League by logging 66 strikeouts in 52 innings and posting an 0.86 ERA for Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse.

Garcia signed a minor league deal with the organization in July 2011 and had success at short-season Auburn, earning him a longer look this season. The Nationals called him up in September after he stayed healthy and made 45 minor league appearances this season.

CAPITAL GAINS

• The 16th pick in this year's draft, righthander Lucas Giolito had Tommy John surgery after appearing in only one game in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He allowed one run in two innings but still felt sore from the injury that cost him a chance at being the top overall selection.

• In addition to Garcia, the organization's initial Arizona Fall League contingent included righthanders Paul Demny and Ryan Perry, third baseman Anthony Rendon, shortstop Jason Martinson and outfielder Brian Goodwin.