The Braves were projected to draft a hitter, and though both David Dahl and DJ Davis were already selected, the Braves had most of the players on the board available to them.
The Braves could have taken California high school 3B/SS Tanner Rahier, Louisiana high school C/OF Stryker Trahan, Clemson 3B Richie Shaffer, Georgia Southern OF Victor Roache or Stanford 3B/1B Stephen Piscotty.
They also had some talented pitchers available like Florida high school RHP Lance McCullers, Oklahoma high school RHP Ty Hensley and Duke RHP Marcus Stroman.
So when the Braves drafted in-state RHP Lucas Sims from Brookwood, Georgia it was a bit of a surprise. The move was surprising because the Braves had been rumored to want a hitter as well as the fact that they haven't been taking local prep players the last few years.
Here is a quick scouting report on Lucas Sims, the newest member of the Atlanta Braves organization.
Lucas Sims is a 6'3", 190-pound kid at the moment, but doesn't seem like he will fill out much more. His shoulders look like he has limited room to add good weight, so there is limited projectability remaining with him.
Sims is committed to Clemson to play his college baseball, similar to another former top draft choice in Jeff Francoeur.
He shouldn't be too hard to buy out of his college commitment after he used a strong spring to push himself up into the first round from being a projected second-day pick heading into the year.
Another positive for Sims is that he is pretty young for his class, as he just turned 18 years old on May 10th.
Depending on the source, Sims has either two or three potential plus pitches, led by his fastball.
The fastball gets up as high as 97 MPH at the moment and has at least decent movement on it. His next best pitch is a curve that appears to be on its way to being a plus pitch. The third pitch is a slider, and that pitch also can get strikeouts.
Sims is currently working on his off-speed pitch, a changeup that he doesn't really use much right now. As long as he can develop at least a decent one, he should remain in the rotation.
Sims has decent control, but his command would grade out as below average at the moment. There is reason for hope that he will be able to work this out in the minors. He also has no issues with his mechanics.
Sims is a right-handed prep product with good enough athleticism to play shortstop for his high school team when he is not on the mound.
He has faced quality competition between high school and the travel circuit, so he isn't a raw prep prospect.
Sims is a guy with the potential to become a solid top-of-the-rotation starter if he develops as the Braves hope. That's the good news, especially since the Braves have focused on safer college arms like Mike Minor and Sean Gilmartin in recent drafts.
The downside is that he could also end up as a closer if he doesn't develop at least a usable changeup.
Sims is likely to sign instead of heading to college at Clemson, and the fact that he has admitted in interviews that the Braves were his favorite team growing up could mean he signs for a bit of a discount.
Upon signing he is likely headed to the Gulf Coast League this year, and could reach the Appalachian League if he does well in rookie ball.
I personally believe that because he has good present stuff and limited projectability remaining, Sims is the type of pitcher that could move fairly quickly for a prep arm.
However, he isn't likely to be rushed in any way because of the pitching depth within the organization. Still, in four years he could be on the doorstep trying to force his way into a crowded rotation for the Braves.