Mar 12, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Nathan Karns (51) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

First-hand Reports: Nathan Karns and Marcus Stroman


Greetings from sunny Florida! I’m here on the Florida Gulf Coast to provide our Grading on the Curve readers with some first-hand scouting reports on some of the players I’ve seen. I’m covering the Toronto Blue Jays mostly (with a media credential thanks to our friends at the Canadian Baseball Network) but I will provide some reports on their opposition as well. Wednesday, I was the big league game between the Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays and I saw most of the game from the photo bays just beyond the first and third base dugouts. Not the best place to scout from, I know, but, unfortunately, the press box was packed and paying customers were sitting in the desirable scouting seats right behind home plate.

Two potential rookies went head to head with Nathan Karns, a 26-year-old righty who played his high school and college ball in Texas, going for the Rays and Marcus Stroman, a 22-year-old Long Island native going for the Blue Jays. Karns was acquired by the Rays this offseason in a a deal that sent Jose Lobaton, Felipe Rivero and Drew Vettleson to Washington. Stroman was the Blue Jays’ first round draft pick in 2012 (22nd overall) out of Duke University and has lit up the minors in his year and half, spending 2013 in Double-A.

Nathan Karns of the Tampa Bay Rays fist bumps a disembodied hand after coming out of the game against the Toronto Blue Jays on March 12, 2014 in Dunedin, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Jay Blue

Nathan Karns of the Tampa Bay Rays fist bumps a disembodied hand after coming out of the game against the Toronto Blue Jays on March 12, 2014 in Dunedin, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Jay Blue

Karns, at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds is a big fella and he throws downhill really well. He was really effective against a major league lineup that featured Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind, Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie. While he only struck out one batter, he didn’t give up a run in his three and a third innings and surrendered three hits and one walk.

Again, because of the angle I was at for the game, I couldn’t really tell which pitches he was using most of the time, but I did get some pretty pictures (one of which is to the right).

Marcus Stroman plays long toss before his start for the Toronto Blue Jays against the Tampa Bay Rays on March 12, 2014 in Dunedin, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Jay Blue

Marcus Stroman plays long toss before his start for the Toronto Blue Jays against the Tampa Bay Rays on March 12, 2014 in Dunedin, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Jay Blue

Stroman, on the other hand, is only 5-foot-9 and about 185 pounds. Because he can’t get the downward plane that Karns gets, Stroman really needs to work down in the zone. When he was doing so, he was very effective, picking up three strikeouts in his four innings. He struck out solid major leaguers in Ben Zobrist (looking), Sean Rodriguez (swinging) and Wilson Betemit (looking). That said, when he left the ball up in the zone, he was very hittable and he gave up a home run to Jeremy Moore who, to his credit, has hit .400 with three home runs this spring.

That said, it was an interesting battle of two very different pitchers, both of whom are trying to make the major leagues and will, in all likelihood, see The Show at some point in 2014.

Tomorrow, I’ll update you on the guys I saw in Dunedin today in a match up of Double-A and Triple-A clubs between the Blue Jays and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Tags: Tampa Bay Rays Toronto Blue Jays

  • Adam Sproule

    Thanks for the update Jay Blue. With all the money this league throws around they could even get you a good vantage point? Squeeze inthere buddy.

    • http://www.bluejaysfromaway.com Jay Blue

      Haha. Thanks Adam. It’s tough in Spring Training games because they’re sold like major league games and that game was sold out. I was grateful for the media pass and the ability to be down at field level to take pictures. I did talk to Kevin Pillar after the game (I spoke to the Tampa media director and their clubhouse was closed to media) but it was pretty brief. The only guys around after the game in Spring Training are the guys who played until the end and anyone who was around doing workouts in the gym.

      Minor league games are a different story (both in Spring Training and in the regular season). I’ve always been able to get excellent seats to see minor league games and scout players.