Braves take local high school pitcher with first round selection

Four days before retiring John Smoltz’s number, the Braves selected a local pitcher who grew up idolizing Smoltz.

The Braves took suburban Atlanta’s Lucas Sims with their first round selection in this year’s First-Year Player Draft.  The 18-year-old product of Gwinnett County’s Brookwood High School possess a fastball that has touched 94-mph and a hard curveball.

Recognized as having one of the best arms among available high school products, Sims is working on a changeup.  Scouts like his mound presence, his aggressive nature and the athleticism he displayed both on the mound and while playing shortstop.

This marks the fourth time in the past five years that the Braves have taken a pitcher with their first selection.  They had taken left-handed collegiate pitchers —  Mike Minor and Sean Gilmartin — first in two of the previous three Drafts.

With an abundance of young pitchers who have already gained Major League experience there was some thinking the Braves would go with a position player.  But the Braves determined that their best option was to go with Sims’ powerful right arm.

Sims’ selection ironically comes 10 years after the Braves took a couple Gwinnett County high school products Jeff Francouer and Brian McCann in the first two rounds of the 2002 Draft.

Because they did not offer arbitration to any rated free agents lost via free agency this past winter, the Braves do not have any compensation picks in this year’s Draft.   When the Draft resumes on Tuesday, their second round pick will be the 85th overall selection.

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