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Gwinnett's 2012 first-rounders playing well

Grayson's Austin Meadows will be taken in the first round of the baseball draft on Thursday, just like Brookwood's Lucas Sims was a year ago.

Sims is already nearly halfway through his first full season in the minors. So are James Ramsey and Matt Olson.

Gwinnett had a record three players taken in the first round last year, with Sims going No. 21 overall to the hometown Braves. Ramsey, a Wesleyan graduate, was taken No. 23 by St. Louis out of Florida State and Parkview's Olson went No. 47 to Oakland in the supplemental part of the first round.

Meadows, a five-tool outfielder, is expected to be taken somewhere in the first 10 picks and he will start his journey toward the major leagues as a teenager, just like Sims and Olson.

Sims, who turned 19 on May 10, is one of the youngest pitchers in the Class A South Atlantic League. First baseman Olson, who was 19 on March 29, is among the youngest position players in the Class A Midwest League.

Both are holding their own after going against each other for a high school state championship just a year ago.

Sims, who received a bonus of $1,825,000 from the Braves, recently moved into the starting rotation at Rome. Olson, who got $1,079,000 from the A's, is a productive everyday player at Beloit, Wis.

Because of his age, the Braves have taken a cautious approach with Sims. But strict innings limits and pitch counts are finally a thing of the past.

"We wanted him to take it slow and get his feet wet," said Ronnie Richardson, the Braves' director of minor league operations. "Now he's ready to go full speed. The limits are off."

Sims, ranked as the Braves' No. 3 prospect by MLB.com, moved into the rotation after pitching 13 scoreless innings over his last five relief appearances and has struck out 16 over 8 innings in his two starts as he continues to get stretched out.

The right-hander has walked 17 in 31 innings, but 10 of those walks came in 11 innings during April. For the season, he is 1-2 with a 3.19 ERA and has 37 strikeouts in 31 innings. Opponents are batting just .168.

That's impressive.

"He's pitching very well," Richardson said.

Olson, who led Parkview to a second straight state title and a No. 1 national ranking a year ago, has been putting up solid offensive numbers at Beloit despite the Midwest League's reputation as a tough place to hit early in the season.

Ranked by MLB.com as Oakland's No. 4 prospect, Olson was hitting .242 with 16 doubles, seven homers and 31 RBIs after 52 games. He had 23 walks to 60 strikeouts in 190 at-bats.

Ramsey, who led Florida State to the College World Series as a senior, is already in Class AA.

The 23-year-old center fielder made the jump after hitting .361 with a .481 on-base average for Class A Advanced Palm Beach to start the season.

The Cardinals' No. 15 prospect as ranked by MLB.com, Ramsey has cooled after joining Springfield, Mo., of the Texas League. But he had a combined .287 average and .427 on-base mark through 40 games.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

A year after being drafted, three first-round picks from Gwinnett are moving up the minor league ladder toward the majors.

Player Draft Position High School Team Affiliate Class

Lucas Sims No. 21 RHP Brookwood Rome Braves A

James Ramsey No. 24 OF Wesleyan Springfield Cardinals AA

Matt Olson No. 47 1B Parkview Beloit Athletics A