There was so much hype built around Lucas Sims when the Braves drafted him in the 1st round out of high school in 2012. Going into this season, baseballprospectus.com had him ranked as the 54th best prospect in baseball. Sims flew through Rookie and Low-A ball, posting low ERA’s, minimizing walks and tossing a ton of strikeouts. Sims looked like he was the whole package coming into A+ ball in 2014, but proved he was human after all. Sims’ strikeout numbers fell, which in turn caused his ERA to inflate to 4.20. However, due to his arsenal, most still had Sims listed as a top 5 prospect in our system despite all the moves. 2015 has been a disaster for Sims, and it’s not all his fault. He was injured in the Mudcats’ bus crash earlier this season and missed a good bit of time. This leaves me wanting to give Sims the benefit of the doubt, but his 2015 numbers have been abysmal. Though he struggled in 9 starts for Carolina, the Braves still opted to promote Sims to AA Mississippi. In turn, the struggles have increased. Sims has always been pretty good about not walking batters, but is averaging 6 BB/9 this season, an alarming rate. His strikeout numbers have worked their way back up, but if Sims cannot regain his control his future looks cloudy. Over three levels this season, he owns a 5.69 ERA. He did have a nice outing on Tuesday, hopefully this is a sign of things to come for Lucas.
Rio Ruiz was a big piece in the return we got for Evan Gattis, but has had a very disappointing 2015 campaign for AA Mississippi. Ruiz is a guy who is supposed to “grow into” a power bat, but has just 2 homers and 13 doubles this season while hitting just .217. It’s important to keep in mind that Ruiz is young for AA and I am by no means writing this kid off. Ruiz has has flashes of brilliance this season, as he hit .310 in June and is actually on a nice hot streak currently. However, given his production, Ruiz is most definitely going to have to repeat AA next season. The good news for Rio is that the team acquired Hector Olivera, so it’s unlikely the team rushes him through the farm system.
Jose Briceno has to be the most disappointing prospect in our system this season. With a lot of uncertainty surrounding Christian Bethancourt as the team’s catcher of the future, many considered the addition of Briceno a “backup plan” of sorts. We shipped a couple of serviceable arms to Colorado for a guy who seemed to have the potential to be a good offensive backstop. He hit .283 with 12 homers and 50 RBI in 84 games for the Rockies’ Low-A affiliate in 2014. He’s not exactly tearing the cover off the ball this season. Briceno is hitting an atrocious.187 for the Mudcats in 2015. Enough said.
Jason Hursh got off to a rough start to his 2015 season, but it may be a blessing in disguise in regards to his Major League future. Hursh, our 1st round selection in 2013, has been a starter throughout his short minor league career, but made the transition to the bullpen this season and is paying off the dividends. He had a 5.63 ERA through 15 starts for Mississippi before making the switch. He’s clearly more suited to come out of the bullpen, as evidenced by his 2.25 ERA out of their bullpen. Hursh has since been promoted to AAA and is yet to give up a run in a couple of outings. Not everyone is suited to be a starter, and with Hursh’s high-90’s fastball he could be a nice fixture out of the MLB bullpen sooner than you think.
Alec Grosser’s 2015 has been very similar to the aforementioned Jason Hursh. Grosser was a later pick in that 2013 Draft (11th Round) but had built up a good bit of hype as a prospect with strong numbers throughout the lower levels of the minors. He hit a speed bump with Rome this season, and like Hursh, has made the move to the bullpen. What sets the two apart is that Grosser has not had much success in his new role. He has more walks than strikeouts this season. Yikes.