Lawrenceville, Georgia —— Entering play on Thursday night, Atlanta Braves right-handed pitching prospect Lucas Sims is 6-4 with a 4.01 ERA over 18 games (17 starts) for the International League‘s Gwinnett Braves, with 115 strikeouts over 103.1 innings pitched against 87 hits and 32 walks. I observed the 23-year-old Georgia native in his July 17 start against Lehigh Valley; below is Baseball Census‘ full Lucas Sims scouting report, including game video.
Lucas Sims Scouting Report — Video
Our video of Atlanta Braves right-handed pitching prospect Lucas Sims shows all of his game pitches across that entire July 17 start against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, where he struck out 11 batters in six innings of work:
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Lucas Sims Scouting Report — Notes
Listed at 6’2″, 220 lbs., Lucas Sims may fall just short of that height but he’s every bit the weight listed and then some with thick, athletic thighs that no doubt help him push to the plate. Along with his ripped lower half and overall strong physique, Sims brings it from the mound, working 92-94 mph with his fastball. He also throws a curveball at 74-77 mph, a slider/cutter at 85-88 mph, and a changeup at 82-84 mph. The curve looked phenomenal during his Monday night start, and he had it working both over the plate for a called strike and as a putaway pitch down and glove-side once he got ahead in the count, especially to right-handed hitters. It’s an 11-to-5 breaker with a true hump, and it’s very sharp; that, plus the velocity differential, draws goofy, awkward swings from hitters.
Sims’ slider/cutter is comparatively less impressive than that big, hard curveball, but it’s still an effective pitch because he throws it hard and can dot it on the glove-side corner against lefties to keep them honest. The slider/cutter has some depth to it, too, and while not a true wipeout pitch like the curveball, Sims knows how to throw it and when to sequence it in to draw weak contact or miss a barrel. It appears to be a relatively new wrinkle in his repertoire; while the Atlanta Braves prospect ought to remain a predominantly fastball/curveball guy, this third look is a good one. The changeup lags behind in fourth right now, but Sims can probably get just enough out of it on raw talent and arm action alone so as to use it occasionally to keep left-handed hitters honest out over the plate.
Aside from above-average raw stuff at the top of his repertoire, the righty hides the ball exceptionally well from balance point to release. In doing so, just like the pitcher he went up against on Monday night, Lucas Sims allows his velocity to play up even above the low- to mid-90s by sneaking the ball up on hitters faster than it registers on the radar gun. That’s an asset in and of itself, especially when Sims is working down in the zone, and his late hand break and quick arm action should serve him well in the big leagues to prevent hitters from getting too comfortable against him at the plate.
Overall, he’s a very good athlete, and should do well to help himself with fielding the position, maintaining strength throughout the course of a full season, and all the other things sometimes too far taken for granted among big league starting pitchers. He plainly has an approach on the mound more than just letting his raw stuff work, and that, too, will help him adjust eventually in The Show. After this last start on Monday night, Lucas Sims himself says he’s ready for the big leagues; before too long here, the Atlanta Braves may want to listen.
Lucas Sims Scouting Report — Projection
Lucas Sims gets the most out of his athletic frame, and that should continue well into his Major League career, which to me says he might overachieve some in his eventual role. But with two above-average pitches (fastball, curve) and a true third offering lagging behind (the slider/cutter may become one, but not yet, and the changeup has a ways to go), Sims may naturally slot into the middle or even back end of the Atlanta Braves rotation rather than becoming a true top-line starter. He was nails on Monday night, of course, but minor mechanical and command issues have reportedly plagued him in the past; however, there’s no question about his ability to miss bats and run his fastball up into the mid-90s, and for that reason alone it wouldn’t surprise me if he out-pitches his projection.
He has allowed 19 home runs in 18 games (17 starts) this year—not a total red flag, but a small sign that too many pitches are still being left out over the hittable part of the plate too often. Of course, Lucas Sims is still just 22 years old, and even though he got hit around in ten Triple-A starts a year ago, he’s come back impressively to more than hold his own against the International League in 2017. Expect a similar path with some growing pains when he does reach the big leagues, which may be as early as the next few weeks depending on what happens with the Atlanta Braves at and after the trade deadline.