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Appy notes: Sims soaking it all in07/19/2012 10:24 AM ET
By Bob Sutton / Special to MLB.com
Lucas Sims is out to make a big impression in a small amount of time.
That's the general plan for the Danville Braves pitcher as he embarks on his first professional season. He was a first-round pick of the Atlanta Braves in June, and already he's counting career highlights.
A meeting with childhood idol John Smoltz and a quick promotion after a stint with the Gulf Coast League affiliate have been part of the right-hander's early tutelage.
"Just trying to soak it all in," Sims said. "It's still the same game it was."
He's on an innings restriction set by the organization, so he said he knows each outing will hold more importance in his development. Sims threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings in his first outing for Danville.
The Draft couldn't have gone any better for Sims, an 18-year-old from Lawrenceville, Ga.
"A dream come true," he said. "The [Atlanta] pick was coming up, and I was really hoping. It all works out when it's your favorite team."
Sims was quick to sign with Atlanta. He said it was an easy choice to set aside his college scholarship to Clemson.
"I wanted to get a deal done so I could get professional baseball started and get some innings in," he said.
The Braves have set a specific plan, aiming to limit Sims' innings for 2012 to 100. With more than 77 innings for his high school team and another seven innings in the GCL, that didn't leave many by the time he arrived in Danville.
"I've got a few more," he said. "[My goal is] to get a feel for hitters and work on throwing strikes."
He has a spot in the Danville rotation, so he said he expects to throw every five days. He threw 42 pitches in his Appalachian League debut.
The innings limit has allowed Sims to unleash. He's a power pitcher, with a 97 mph fastball part of the evidence. He said he's able to hit that level with the short stints, whereas he might top out at 92-94 mph if he was logging a seven-inning outing.
"I've got a little extra," he said, "pitching at a comfortable pace."
Danville manager Jonathan Schuerholz describes Sims as "a high school kid with a good arm." From early observations, there have been some clear indicators of his makeup.
"A confident kid, athletic," Schuerholz said. "Good composure on the mound."
Sims said he would like to eclipse the 100-inning plateau but added that he understands the Atlanta organization is looking at the big picture and trying to prepare him for the future.
The meeting with Smoltz is something Sims counts as a memorable situation.
"He was a lifelong idol with me being a pitcher," Sims said. "Just hearing some of the advice he gave me, that really hit home. I don't get star-struck often, but that was real breathtaking."
In time, breathtaking performances are something Sims hopes to produce for Atlanta. In the meantime, his opportunities will come in small doses.
"It's different," he said. "You get used to the five-day rotation. It's a little different getting pulled early in the games."
Consistent enough: Even though Elizabethton Twins outfielder Romy Jimenez has been batting ninth in the order and has only one multi-hit outing among a 10-game stretch, he has remained one of the league leaders in several major categories. By mid July, the 21-year-old led the league in batting average, RBIs, on-base percentage and slugging.
Never missed a beat With Burlington going six days without a game because of rainouts and an off-day, it caused third-round draftee Colin Rodgers to be skipped in the rotation. But the 18-year-old left-hander from Louisiana looked smooth in his return, stretching his streak of scoreless innings to 13-plus with five innings of one-hit ball against Danville. He had a span of 10 2/3 innings without yielding a hit. "I didn't know how it was going to turn out," Rodgers said of returning after the unexpected layoff. "I pitched well enough to win. That's what I'm trying to do."
Reliever on a roll Johnson City Cardinals reliever Ronnie Shaban picked up his league-high sixth save by sealing a victory against the host Bristol White Sox. In college for Virginia Tech, Shaban had six saves in his career, so he's well ahead of that pace. "My personality fits it," Shaban told the Bristol Herald Courier. "I'm a competitor and I like being in the game with the game on the line."