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Homegrown Lucas Sims could be ready to play in Atlanta this season

A year ago Lucas Sims was Atlanta's best prospect. That's changed with all the new pitchers, but Sims has still got a great chance to be a significant pitcher in Atlanta.

Lucas Sims was Atlanta’s top pick in the first round in the 2012 draft. He went to Brookwood High School in Snellville, just northeast of Atlanta.

The Braves have waited for Sims to turn the corner a bit. He always had very good stuff, but the Braves wanted for him to be more spectacular than he had been early in his pro career.

That happened last season as Sims pitched well when he was sent back to start the season in High-A Carolina. His numbers were not great, but the Braves really believed Sims was doing what he had to do to take that next step.

And then the bus wreck happened with the Carolina team. Sims’ hip was injured, and he had to miss some time. When Sims returned, he picked up where he left off and did well – well enough to go up to Double-A Mississippi.

That was where Sims really opened some eyes. In nine starts with Mississippi, Sims was 4-2 with a 3.21 ERA. He allowed 29 hits in 47.2 innings, 29 walks and 56 strikeouts.

The Braves then sent Sims to the Arizona Fall League to get more work. He made six appearances (five starts) and had a 2.12 ERA, with 17 strikeouts and only three walks allowed in 17 innings.

The performance in the AFL puts Sims on the radar. MLB.com ranked Sims as Atlanta’s 10th best prospect, but the organization has him rated higher than that. They believe he has top-of-the-rotation stuff.

Sims needs to stay healthy for the entire season in 2016, and the only reason he missed time last year was the bus crash. Sims made 28 stars in Carolina in 2014, so we know he can produce a full season. Sims has 399.2 minor league innings, so if Sims has another full season he would be over the 500-inning mark that some believe a pitcher needs to be fully developed.

If Sims is impressive in AA, he could be ready to start 2017 in Atlanta. The competition is now there, compared to a year ago when he was the best prospect. It will push Sims to stand out among pitchers like Sean Newcomb, Aaron Blair, Chris Ellis and John Gant.

Ask some Braves’ executives what they think the future rotation looks like and almost all mention Sims. So it’s just a matter of time before he likely gets his chance. He turns 22 in May, so Sims is still young. A little more development will only help Sims’ chances of making Atlanta’s front office realize how he might fit into the future rotation at Sun Trust Park.

ETA: 2017

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.


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