After an up-and-down career in the Minors, Lucas Sims is finally getting his big shot for his hometown team.
The Atlanta Braves are promoting their 2012 top pick from Triple-A Gwinnett to start Tuesday against the Dodgers at SunTrust Park, the team confirmed Monday afternoon.
A Georgia native, Sims was raised in Snellville, a suburb of Atlanta, and grew up a Braves fan. He walked 262 batters in 541 innings during his first five Minor League seasons but has issued 36 free passes over 115 1/3 frames this year, an improvement in control that has allowed him to pitch deeper into games. He's averaged 5.75 innings per outing in 2017 compared to just over five in 2016 and 4.6 in 2015.
"A lot of my work has been preparation between the ears," Sims recently told MiLB.com. "I go out there every time, confident I can do my job and do it well. I just try to make sure I do something to get better every day, and that gives me confidence every time that I take the mound."
The Braves' No. 19 prospect has always had strikeout stuff and leaves Gwinnett with the seventh-highest K total in the Minors while tossing more innings than any other pitcher in the top 12. It's that combination of stuff and efficiency that has allowed him to go 7-4 with a 3.75 ERA, the first time he's posted an ERA under 4.00 since 2013 as a member of Class A Rome.
"From Day 1, every start he's gone out and gotten better," Gwinnett manager Damon Berryhill said. "His issue early in the season was elevated fastballs, and now he's a lot more consistent staying down in the zone while working in and out. … Now he pitches up in the zone a little bit, but that's to elevate the eyes of the hitter when he works down in the zone. Now he gets a lot of 'chase' swings out of it."
Sims, 23, throws a fastball that sits consistently in the mid-90s and features a plus curve with a developing changeup -- to go along with his improving command.
Video: Gwinnett's Sims matches career high with 11th K