Lucas Sims is taking AAA by storm. He is finally putting it together.
The local product out of Brookwood High School has had about as topsy-turvy a minor league career. It all began when Sims was selected with the Braves’ first round pick in 2012. After dominating Rookie ball and Low-A, Sims began to become referred to as a top 100 prospect. He flashed his plus fastball and curveball straight out of high school, and it appeared he could be next in line of local products turned Braves stars. But there have been multiple speed bumps along the way.
Sims started to show his inconsistencies in 2014, right after garnering all the prospect hype. He posted the lowest strikeout rate of his career. He lost some of his luster as a prospect among baseball circles and had to repeat A+ ball. Though he still struggled, the organization expressed a vote of confidence in Sims and promoted him anyways. A part of his struggles could be attributed to being involved in an awful team bus crash that sidelined him for six weeks. He impressed in nine starts for Mississippi, posting a 3.21 ERA, and had a great stint in the Fall League to follow.
Sims lost some of his luster due to his control issues, and the flux of young pitching that Atlanta imported when it began it’s extensive rebuild. In a way, Sims had become a forgotten man, which is evidenced by his 18th overall ranking on the Braves prospect list going into 2017. Sims performed well in AA last season, but got absolutely lit up in AAA. However, it is worth noting he was just 22 years of age.
Sims got off to a really hot start last season, only to falter off as the season prolonged. He has gotten off to yet another hot start this year. He boasts a 2.16 ERA through seven starts. Most importantly, he has posted the lowest walk rate of his career. Sunday, he had one of the best performances he has had, tossing ten strikeouts over 6.2 innings of 2-hit shutout ball.
Sims has been very inconsistent, but he is pitching at his best and appears to be next in line for a rotation spot in Atlanta. The big league club is going to want to see him experience this success for a larger sample size, but with the struggles of Bartolo Colon and the inevitable injury bug that hits every rotation every season, it may not be long until he gets his shot.
He has faced adversity, but one of the Braves former top prospects has pitched his back back into that discussion. He has always had the “stuff”. Sims consistently posts some of the highest strikeout rates in the farm, but has also posted some of the highest walk rates. If he truly has mastered his control, Sims has a shot at being a legitimate frontline starter.