CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Let me preface this by writing that I am not declaring the potential major league career of one Lucas Sims dead, and at the age of 21 years old he may still evolve into a pitcher worthy of being the Braves' first-round pick in 2012.
However . . .
Sims, once touted as the top prospect in the Braves' organization, was beaten up by Philadelphia in his first spring appearance Friday. The ugly numbers: five earned runs, three hits (including a double) and three walks in just 1.2 innings.
Sims' tough lesson: "It showed me what happens when you can’t throw your breaking ball for a strike."
Sims was the 21st overall pick out of Brookwood High School in the 2012 draft, for which he received a $1.6 million signing bonus. He was listed as the Braves' No. 1 prospect in 2013, but then fell to No. 3 in 2014 (passed by the since-traded Jose Peraza and pitcher Mike Foltynewicz) and now is listed as No. 10.
There are three possible reasons for the slide from 1 to 3 to 10:
• 1. The Braves have accumulated a number of touted prospects through trades over the past year and a half. Therefore, it's only natural Sims might be pushed down the rankings.
• 2. The Braves' minor-league organization was dying a slow death under former general manager Frank Wren, not that he would ever acknowledge that ... or any miscalculation, for that matter.
• 3. Sims was a bit overrated to begin with.
I've seen what happens before when one regime takes over for another and the soundbites that come when a draft pick doesn't develop.
New front office: "Don't blame us. We didn't pick that guy."
Old front office: "They screwed up my draft pick."
We'll see how Sims develops. But the early results haven't been comforting. His best season came in Single A ball with Rome in 2013 (12=4, 2.62, 134 strikeouts in 116 2/3 innings). His overall minor-league results: 29-25, 3.74 ERA in 87 appearances (77 starts), 380 strikeouts, 170 walks, 45 hit batters, 40 wild pitches.
He also had the misfortune of being among the 29 players who were on the team bus for the Single A Carolina Mudcats last season when it ran off the road in North Carolina and slid into a ditch, flipping on its side. Seven players went to the hospital and six wound up on the disabled list, including Sims, who had a bruised hip.
He's healthy now. He just needs to be better.
The Braves have stripped themselves of proven veterans and hitched their future to the development of young players. If Sims doesn't develop, he'll stand as one of the cautionary tales of the strategy.
After his outing, Sims said he needs to "slow down a little bit more. ... Sometimes those emotions, the adrenaline gets going. I feel like I got a little bit too out front of myself."
Does it bother him to no longer see himself as one of the Braves' top few prospects?
"I know the ballplayer I am," he said. "I don’t really worry too much about what the other guys do. ... We all have the same goal at the end of the day. We all want to be in Atlanta. I’m more concerned about what I need to do to be successful."
Recent ramblings from the Digital Jukebox
- Francoeur's bumpy journey brings him back to Braves for one last shot
- Braves are discounted on field but not at Disney box office (wait, $49?)
- Roddy White still has something left, Falcons may regret this move
- Falcons' defense needs help but Mario Williams would be huge risk
- Matt Ryan doesn't have long to prove worth to Falcons
- Win won't save Georgia's season but Mark Fox's job likely safe
- Hawks whiff again as Joe Johnson plans to sign with...Miami?
- Poll: It's your turn to vote on Hawks' potential signing of Joe Johnson
- (Updated column) Hawks traded Joe Johnson -- now they want him back?
- (Early version) Hawks considering bringing back Joe Johnson (this is not a drill)
- Roddy White: 'Bridge just broke down' between he, Shanahan
- Roddy White opens up on Falcons' offense, Shanahan, his future
- Woods' agent disputes report of setback, but who's telling truth?
- Get ready for 'March Sadness' in state of Georgia (again)
- Hawks have turned into 'Team Sometimes'
- Hawks emerge from All-Star break a sloppy and miserable mess
- Hawks may need change but now is not time for major deal
- SUPER BOWL: After MVP season, Cam Newton has quiet exit
- SUPER BOWL: Denver's defense gifts a title for Peyton Manning
- SUPER BOWL: Short takes: Both quarterbacks struggle but it was a day for defenses
- SUPER BOWL: Get used to this Atlanta: Cam, Panthers are on winning path
- SUPER BOWL: Torn ACLs, broken arm won't stop Thomas Davis
- SUPER BOWL: Goodell on head injuries: 'There's risk in sitting on couch' (Huh?)
- SUPER BOWL: Carolina has been dismissive of its lone loss to Falcons
- SUPER BOWL: Dan Quinn is the miracle man of Super Bowl week
- SUPER BOWL: Cam Newton might be at his press conference breaking point
- SUPER BOWL: Ex-Falcons coach Wade Phillips back on top at 68
- SUPER BOWL: Love him or hate him, Cam Newton has gift: winning amid storm
- SUPER BOWL: Carolina gets tip on Super Bowl week -- from Eugene Robinson
- SUPER BOWL: Super Bowl Digi-Blog: Peyton Manning, Cam Newton and Me vs. Puppet
- SUPER BOWL: There's no reason for Manning to worry about his legacy
- 'How They Really Stand' in Atlanta sports (2016 edition)
- 3 teams, 3 questions: Quinn could be on hook as much as Dimitroff in '16
- Falcons' Dimitroff jumps on the grenade (smart guy)
- Falcons hire two former general managers -- and that makes five
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.