WASHINGTON – The Instructional League roster of the Nationals this fall was filled with former first- and second-round draft picks, including pitchers Cade Cavalli, Jackson Rutledge, and Cole Henry.
Not getting as much attention was Andrew Karp, a sixth-round pick by the Nationals in 2018 out of Florida State.
He is a former college teammate with infielder Drew Mendoza, the top position prospect in the Washington system per MLB.com.
“He is kind of an unsung hero,” Brad Holman, the pitching coordinator in player development, told Federal Baseball of Karp.
“Andrew doesn’t get talked about that much. We have a lot of pretty good arms. Hopefully, he will be that proverbial needle in a haystack that comes out shining.”
Karp, a 25-year-old right-hander, has not pitched in a pro game since August 25, 2018 when he was in the Gulf Coast League. He had a shoulder procedure done in May 2019 and after a few months of rehab took part in Instructional League in 2019 and was at Spring Training in Florida in March when the pandemic shut down the game.
“I missed last year (in 2019) due to injury so I was looking forward to this season,” Karp told Federal Baseball earlier this month.
“I was full-go in March. I threw one outing and then two days later we got shut down. I was feeling really good in the spring and throwing the ball really well.”
He worked out at his home near Orlando during the shutdown from March until heading to West Palm Beach in October for the club’s Instructional League.
“The instructs were really good,” said Karp, who was not part of the 60-player pool in Virginia this summer.
“Obviously the world is in a crazy place. It was refreshing to be down there with the guys. I got some quality work and honestly have some of the coaches’ eyes on you.”
Karp threw an intrasquad game and then two innings against the Marlins in an Instructional League game.
One of the batters he faced with the Marlins was Griffin Conine, a former Duke standout and the son of former big leaguer Jeff.
“They have a lot of young talent,” Karp said of the Marlins. “As far as having a hitter in the box it was nothing too crazy” to get used to.
Karp was throwing in the low 90s in instructs – a positive sign after his 2019 surgery.
“I had a quirky shoulder issue. It just took a little longer to get diagnosed; it was nerve-related in my shoulder,” he said.
“I had a very quick, easy procedure. It was about a three-month recovery.”
He said the shoulder procedure in 2019 didn’t have anything to do with the injuries he suffered in a car accident in 2014 while at Florida State.
“The impact … left Karp trapped inside of his totaled truck for 45 minutes, unable to move as his femur was broken in half. It was only after a two-hour ambulance ride to the hospital, one lengthy surgery and several tearful moments later that he began to speculate about his future playing baseball,” according to the Florida State News in 2016.
Now Karp is preparing for 2021.
“He is doing a lot better. We had him in instructs last fall (of 2019) and in Spring Training (in 2020). His velocity really started ticking up, then we had the pandemic and everyone had to go home,” said Holman, the Triple-A pitching coach at Fresno in 2019.
“He was really showing progress; he can spin a curveball,” Holman said. “He is a real cerebral guy; he really thinks the game.”
That is true off the field as well, with hobbies that include golf, ping pong and reading.
A recent book he read was “Market Wizard,” which had interviews with top traders.
Karp has a graduate and master’s degree from Florida State with a focus on finance. He got his master’s degree in 2018 while also playing in the Gulf Coast League.
“I would love to be a wealth manager and manage athletes” one day, he said. “I think that would be kind of unique.”