Atlanta Braves: How Lucas Sims Pick Fits into Future Plans

Daniel KockContributor IIIJune 12, 2012

The Atlanta Braves stayed in their backyard in selecting pitcher Lucas Sims with their first pick in the 2012 MLB Draft.

The right-hander out of Brookwood High School in Snellville, Georgia is the seventh player from Georgia the Braves have selected in the first round since 2000.

That list includes Jason Heyward, Jeff Francoeur, Adam Wainwright and Macay McBride.

The Braves staying close to home in the first round should not come as a big surprise. However, many analysts and fans felt the Braves would look towards a position player who could have a more immediate impact at the major league level.

The Braves already have several young pitching talents like Mike Minor, Randall Delgado, Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, and Sean Gilmartin. Tommy Hanson and Brandon Beachy aren't exactly veterans either at 25 years old.

The draft choice of Sims in the first round proves that general manager Frank Wren wants to have flexibility with the club moving forward.

Wren believes in the philosophy of never having too many pitchers in the system and sees the potential in Sims with a mid-90s fastball and good breaking pitches.

If Sims reaches his potential and ascends through the minors in the next three or five years, there are a couple different directions Sims' career could go.

Obviously, he could earn a starting spot in the Braves rotation.

Hanson is currently signed through the end of the season and potentially will enter the free-agent market. Jair Jurrjens also is in the last year of his contract and his future with the team looks rocky at best. Tim Hudson is still giving the Braves quality innings, but he turns 37 later this summer and will not be around many more years.

Then there are the mysteries surrounding the young arms. Minor shows good stuff but has struggled most of this season with a 6.57 ERA.

How will the experiment of moving Medlen to the bullpen and now back to the rotation play out?

Does Delgado, Teheran and Gilmartin continue to develop and assert themselves in the rotation?

Also with pitchers there's always the question mark of a serious injury.

If some of these scenarios go against the Braves then they plug Sims into the rotation, and he becomes yet another young pitcher for the Braves.

Or, if the Braves find five guys to fill the rotation then Wren will explore the trade market with a top prospect.

Recently, Wren traded pitchers Juan Abreu, Brett Oberholtzer and Paul Clemens to acquire leadoff hitter Michael Bourn.

The Braves traded away Mike Dunn as part of the trade to acquire Dan Uggla. Wren has also traded pitchers in deals to get Alex Gonzalez, Rick Ankiel and Derrek Lee.

You can debate whether or not the deals were good for Atlanta or not, but there is clear evidence that the Braves will dump pitchers to try and upgrade their lineup.

How Sims develops as a pitcher in the minors is the main component of the equation.

Wren and the Braves drafted Sims with his high ceiling and unlimited potential in mind.

It's also clear that the Braves believe in the philosophy of not having too many pitchers and are setting the organization up with more flexibility in the future.