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Sims climbs to No. 1 on Braves prospect list

Lucas Sims has had a very promising first full season in the minors. To gauge how impressive, you just have to check the MLB.com prospect rankings.

The Brookwood graduate vaulted to the No. 1 spot on the Braves list when the rankings were updated after the all-star break and he moved into the Top 100 overall at No. 97.

That’s quite a rise for the No. 21 pick in the first round of the 2012 draft, but the 19-year-old showed how far he has come in his last start for Class A Rome at Charleston on Thursday.

Sims won his fourth straight outing, going seven innings while allowing just five base runners and striking out nine.

“He’s doing very well and we’re happy with his progress,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said.

For the season, the right-hander is 8-4 with a 3.04 ERA and has struck out 105 in 94 2/3 innings. Opponents are batting just .213, and his strikeout total and WHIP (1.16) both rank ninth in the South Atlantic League.

Not bad for someone who started the season in the bullpen and struggled early on with his control.

“We were very patient with him early in the season, making sure he got well grounded,” Wren said. “He’s progressed well through the season.”

The bullpen duty was to hold down Sims’ innings. But the command issue was something he had to overcome.

Sims has been at his best in his past two starts, posting 17 strikeouts to four walks in 12 1/3 innings while allowing three earned runs.

“I’m learning a lot,” Sims said. “My goal is to make progress every time I go out there. I’ve improved my command. That’s been the biggest thing I’ve accomplished.”

Sims, who was 8-1 with a 1.19 ERA as a senior as Brookwood reached the state championship series against Parview, received a bonus of $1.65 million to pass up a scholarship to Clemson and sign with his hometown team. The Braves limited Sims to 34 innings in the Gulf Coast and Appalachian rookie leagues last year, going 2-4 with a 3.71 ERA in 11 games. Then they took it easy with him to start this year. “There are ups and downs, but I enjoy having the opportunity to go to the ballpark every day and do what I love for a living,” Sims said. “It’s something I don’t take for granted.”