Lucas Sims: Atlanta Braves’ Future Starter?


Lucas Sims, a 2012 first round pick, projects to be a middle of the rotation arm, so what does he bring to the table?

The Atlanta Braves selected Lucas Sims, out of high school, in the first round (21st overall) of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft. The Braves continued their trend of drafting players out of their back yard, with Sims being an Atlanta native. Sims is not overly massive, standing 6′ 1” with a nice, athletic build. Regularly, he touches the mid-to-high 90’s due to his smooth delivery and above-average athleticism. Sims entered the 2015 ranked as the Atlanta Braves fifth-ranked prospect per

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The Atlanta Braves signed Lucas Sims shortly after drafting him in 2012. After signing the 18 year old right hander, the team assigned him to the GCL Braves. Sims made three starts for the GCL Braves; however, he amassed only seven innings pitched through those starts. He registered a superb strikeout rate during his short stint in the Rookie League, posting a 12.86 rate. Also, Lucas Sims demonstrated good control in his first professional stop, walking just 1.29 batters per nine innings.

The Braves promoted Lucas Sims to Danville following his third start. Sims finished out his first professional season at Danville, accumulating eight starts at his second stop. Sims won two games, but he lost four, showing some struggles to better hitting. He finished the 2012 season with a 4.33 ERA and 4.19 FIP. Also, his strikeout rate fell from 12.86 to 9.67; moreover, Lucas Sims’ walk rate increased from 1.29 to an even 4.00.

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Following Lucas Sims’ 2012 season, the Atlanta Braves decided to promote Sims to Single-A Rome in 2013. Sims spent the duration of the 2013 season with the Rome Braves, posting his most impressive professional season to-date. Sims made 18 starts in the 2013 (28 total appearances), and he won a career-high 12 games and lost just four. The 2013 season marked the first time in Sims’ career that he eclipsed the 100 innings pitched mark, finishing the season with 116.2 innings.

Additionally, Sims posted his lowest ERA of his career (outside of his 1.29 ERA in three starts at GCL). He finished the 2013 season with an impressive 2.62 ERA with a 3.09 FIP. Sims’ walk rate and strikeout rate both trended in a positive direction, cutting his walk rate from 2012 to 2013 and increasing his strikeout rate during the same stretch. In addition to Lucas Sims’ strong peripherals, he registered a minuscule home run rate of 0.29 during 2013, showing that Sims knows how to keep the ball in the ballpark.

In 2014, Lucas Sims made the jump from Single-A Rome to High-A Lynchburg, where he regressed across the board. However, notably, Sims entered the 2014 season as the youngest player in the Carolina League, painting the picture of his rapid ascension through the Atlanta Braves’ farm system. Sims finished the season with a career-high 156.2 innings pitched, but he posted a middling 4.19 ERA and 4.56 FIP. Also, Sims registered a career-low strikeout rate of 6.15, but he improved on his walk rate. Impressively, Sims managed to post another season of a sub-one home run rate, finishing the season at 0.69.

To open the 2015 season, the Braves forced Lucas Sims to repeat at the High-A level; however, this time, Sims played for Carolina, not Lynchburg. Sims started nine games for the Mudcats, seeing his ERA balloon to an unimpressive 5.18. Although Sims posted an unsightly ERA, his FIP shows that Sims was somewhat unlucky, finishing with at a 4.01 mark. Despite Sims’ command struggles, the Braves promoted the 21 year old to Double-A Mississippi to finish out the 2015 season.

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Lucas Sims impressed at the Double-A level, making nine starts for Mississippi. Sims’ strikeout rate improved with the promotion, jumping from 8.33 to 10.57. Although Sims maintained a high strikeout rate, his command continued to lag behind. Sims’ walk rate held-steady at a lackluster number, somehow increasing from 5.18 to 5.48. However, Sims did not suffer from his lack of command in 2015, finishing the season with a 3.21 ERA and 3.30 FIP. At Double-A, Sims’ home run rate stood at a stunning 0.19.

Lucas Sims finished the 2015 season on a high note, and he hopes to take that momentum into the next season. With a plus fastball and strong breaking ball, Sims possesses the ability to continue his strikeout ways. However, if he wants to continue to see success, he must cut down on his free-passes. Look for Sims to continue to develop his change up heading into the 2016 season, and if he furthers learning his craft, a likely promotion looms in his future.

Likely, Sims opens the season with Double-A Mississippi, but if he improves on last season’s numbers, a promotion to Gwinnett looks eminent. Sims finished the 2015 season as the number seven prospect for the Atlanta Braves, but 2016 may vault him into top-five considerations. The Braves do not expect Sims to be apart of the roster until 2017, but an impressive 2016 season may expedite that process. Hopefully, Sims trends in a positive direction in 2016, so look for Sims to be a hot topic next season. Stay tuned.

Next: Atlanta Braves: Taking Page Out of Royals' Book?

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