Two players with ties to Brookwood’s baseball program — one current player and one alum — have been spending a good portion of their summer at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.
Rising Broncos senior pitcher/infielder Lucas Sims and Brookwood grad and current Kennesaw State catcher Ronnie Freeman were each invited to try out for different USA National Teams, and both have made their mark.
Freeman, who just completed a season that earned him second-team All-Atlantic Sun Conference recognition, was initially selected as an alternate to the Collegiate National Team.
However, the sophomore — who led the Owls in hitting (.392), slugging percentage (.622) and on-base percentage (.422) and was second in home runs (10), RBIs (51), runs (49), total bases (135) and fielding percentage (.984) — was cut from the team despite hitting .500 (5-for-10) and throwing out a base stealer in the team’s first six exhibition games.
Sims, on the other hand, is still in the USA National Training Complex as one of 40 players selected among 144 initially invited from across the nation to try out for the Under-18 National Team.
And he hopes to be one of the 28 still left on the team when cuts are made this weekend. Those 28 players will return to Cary, N.C., on Sept. 9, with 20 of them going on to compete for the U.S. in the Pan-American Baseball Confederation Championships in Cartegena, Columbia, from Sept. 23-Oct. 2.
“It’s pretty cool,” Sims said earlier this week. “There are a bunch of good ball players here, and this will get me ready for higher competition.”
While the Daily Post first-team All-County selection contributed to Brookwood’s 24-10 seasons, which included a trip to the Class AAAAA state quarterfinals, both on the mound (4-1, 3 saves, 2.38 ERA, 52 K, 321⁄3 IP) and at the plate (.429, 3 HR, 21 RBIs) this spring, he has only pitched during his national team tryout.
Sims’ outing in the first round of tryouts included three perfect innings, though he gave up two hits and three earned runs with a strikeout in two innings in his last outing earlier this week.
However, the right-hander was scheduled to throw another inning or two in the team’s exhibition game with the Collegiate National Team late Friday at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in nearby Durham, N.C.
That game will be shown on a tape-delay basis today at noon on MLB Network.
“I like my chances to go far,” said Sims, who was a member of the gold-medal winning U16 Team USA from last year’s Pan-Am championships. “I have some experience with the (USA Baseball) program, so I know how it goes.
“It will be very exciting to see how I fit in against college hitters.”
Friday’s outing will be the latest in a very busy summer for Sims, a rising senior who has already given a verbal commitment to attend Clemson.
After returning from the USA Baseball tryouts, he will take part in several other big events, such as the prestigious East Coast Pro Showcase next month in Lakeland, Fla., as well as the Perfect Game All-American Classic on Aug. 14 in San Diego.