It would have been tough for Lucas Sims to have made a better impression in his first full season in pro ball. Now he has the hardware to commemorate it.
The Braves on Saturday named the 2012 first-round Draft pick their Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Outfielder Josh Elander was tabbed Minor League Player of the Year.
Sims, the team's top prospect, spent the entire season with Class A Rome, where he went 12-4 with a 2.62 ERA in 28 appearances (18 starts). The 19-year-old right-hander struck out 134 batters and walked 46 in 116 2/3 innings, limiting South Atlantic League opponents to a .203 batting average and three home runs.
Ranked 92nd on MLB.com's list of Top 100 Prospects, Sims told MLB.com he turned a corner midway through the season as his fastball command improved.
"A little bit before the All-Star break, I started to get in a groove, started getting comfortable with my routine -- running, lifting, throwing, bullpens, all that," Sims said. "All the staff that came through and helped me out with mechanics, everything just kind of started to click. I had a few rough outings here and there, but I was able to bounce back and finish with a better season than I expected."
Elander began the season as Sims' teammate with Rome, where he hit .318 with a .916 OPS in 74 games. Promoted to Class A Advanced Lynchburg at the start of the summer, he struggled in June and July but solved the Carolina League in August and hit .316 with a .823 OPS over the season's final full month.