General | General | 7/6/2011

Sims Brings Heat at 18u WWBA

Todd Gold         Ben Collman        
Photo: Todd Gold
MARIETTA, GA-- The top ranked player from the state of Georgia in the class of 2012, Lucas Sims, matched the top velocity of the 18u WWBA National Championship tournament thus far. Sims hit 96 mph on the radar gun with his fastball in a relief appearance in Team Gwinett's 7-2 win on Tuesday. On Sunday FTB Louisville Slugger's Lance McCullers also touched 96.

Sims worked three scoreless innings of relief to pick up the win after entering the game in a 2-2 tie. Sims struck out six and didn't allow a hit while walking a pair. The game was a big one for Team Gwinett who entered the day at 2-1 in pool play, tied with their opponent, Windward Braves Blue and needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Coming on in relief is a bit unusual for Sims, though he has done it on occasion. He adapted well to the role yesterday, primarily relying on his fastball while occasionally working in his curveball, which registered at 77 mph, though he did not have to use his changeup (which is a quality third offering). Though he throw a relatively low 54.5% of his pitches for strikes, opponents made very little contact and he showed an impressive ability to execute tough pitches from behind in the count. Sims said of relieving "it's a little different atmosphere, you've just got to come out with a competitive edge and shove it."

Sims is no stranger to the WWBA National Championship tournaments, having played in the 17u tournament last year and the 15u in 2009. While Sims has pitched well and drawn the attention from scouts in the past, he has made a big jump since last year. Not only has Sims increased his fastball velocity significantly (from 89 at the 2010 17u to 96 yesterday, after reaching 94 at the 2011 PG National) but he has also made strides with his offspeed stuff and increased his overall strength, having added 15 pounds of muscle.

Sims is currently the 18th ranked player in the nation, and the #5 pitcher. When asked if that gives his opponents an advantage to face a player that is well known Sims admitted "well it kind of puts a target on my back, but I appreciate it, I'm a competitive person and I want to face people who will give me their best competition."

Sims credits his coaches for helping him develop, saying "I've got awesome coaches, they've really helped me out with mechanics and in the weight room." The flamethrowing righty hails from nearby Lawrenceville, GA, but has committed to play his college baseball at Clemson. Sims explained "I just fell in love with the coaches, the campus, the program. It's a perennial powerhouse, I loved it there, I knew Clemson was the place to be." Though he will likely receive a lucrative offer to forgo his college career following the 2012 MLB Draft, Sims says he is just focusing on improving as a pitcher.

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