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Braves prospect Sims matures quickly

Special Photo Brookwood graduate and Atlanta Braves 2012 first round draft pick Lucas Sims pitches in a game last season for the rookie league Danville Braves.

Special Photo Brookwood graduate and Atlanta Braves 2012 first round draft pick Lucas Sims pitches in a game last season for the rookie league Danville Braves.

Lucas Sims showed his age -- or rather lack of it -- in April, walking 10 in 11 innings for Class A Rome.

Atlanta's first-round pick in the 2012 draft has grown up in a hurry on the mound, though.

The Brookwood graduate has walked just five in 32 innings since turning 19 on May 10 and has thrived since moving into the Rome starting rotation.

"He's pitching very well," said Ronnie Richardson, Atlanta's director of minor league operations.

Sims finished the first half of the South Atlantic League season with a 2.59 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 24 innings.

After a victory at Asheville on June 5, the right-hander had a pair of no-decisions. But in those games he allowed just seven hits and two runs over 11 innings while striking out 13 and walking none.

Although Sims is still one of the youngest pitchers in the Class A league, he certainly isn't pitching like it.

The Braves had the 21st overall pick in 2012 draft work out of the bullpen at the start of the season to control his work load and he had to be stretched out before moving into the rotation.

"We wanted him to take it slow and get his feet wet," said Richardson, "Now he's ready to go full speed."

Sims, ranked as Atlanta's No. 3 prospect by MLB.com, worked a career-high six innings at Lexington on June 10 and went five innings in his other two final starts of the first half.

The recipient of a $1,825,000 bonus from the Braves, Sims was limited to 34 innings by the Braves last season and went 2-4 with a 3.71 ERA in the rookie Gulf Coast and Appalachian leagues.

Sims was 2-2 with a 2.87 ERA in 10 relief appearances and the five starts for Rome during the first half. He had 53 strikeouts in 47 innings and opponents hit just .190 against him.

With the second half to go, a seasoned Sims seems poised for an even more impressive second half.