Saturday, April 26, 2014

Collecting the Durham Bulls: Nate Karns

The Rays organization picked up Nate Karns this off-season in a trade with the Washington Nationals.  While I will miss Jose Lobaton, Karns is a little bit more intriguing than a back up catcher.  No disrespect meant for Jose, he was a cool player to watch on thecDurham Bulls. The Texas Tech grad has been good for more than a strikeout an inning throughout his minor league career including a very impressive line 2012 during two stops in the Nats farm system posting a 2.17 ERA, a WHIP of 1.00, and 148 strikeouts in 116 innings pitched. Last season Karns posted a 3.26 ERA, a WHIP of 1.18, and 155 strikeouts in 132.2 innings at Double A Harrisburg.  Karns is in his first season at the Triple A level with the Bulls and has struggled early on this year with an ERA of 8 and a WHIP of 1.73. He is still raking up the Ks however with more than 29 in 21 innings pitched. 

On cardboard, Karns has several different 2012 Topps brand releases. He appears in the Bowman set and has all of the usual variations. Karns does not have pricey cards, for the most part, so a base Bowman card is likely to set you back a quarter or two. The variations might run a dollar or two max. I managed to pick up a copy of his blue Bowman parallel shortly after his trade to the Rays for right around $2 delivered. 

Karns also appears in the 2013 Topps Heritage High Numbers set. This card is not too easy to find, but is still pretty inexpensive at less than a dollar.  I really liked the 1964 Topps design that Topps used for the Heritage design last year, so I'd have to almost give this card the nod over his Bowman rookie. 

Karns does have autographs in the 2009 Donruss Elite set, but almost all of the avaiable copies floating around on EBay are owned by the same person who is not really budging on their price which is north of $20. While I love the Durham Bulls, and am hopeful that Karns will be a productive member of the Rays, it is hard to believe that his cards will ever hold that sort of value. I will be on the lookout throughout the summer and hopefully can add a copy of a Karns autograph for something a little more reasonable. 

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