Sims Focused On The Right Things

Sims feels very prepared for 2013

It was a successful debut season for last year's first round pick, Lucas Sims. He posted a combined 3.71 ERA between the Gulf Coast League and Danville Braves, and struck out 39 batters in 34 innings. He isn't focused on numbers, however, as he gets set to begin his first full season in 2013.

"I feel like it went really well, I learned a lot," Sims said of his debut season last year. "I feel like that can really help me through this [upcoming] season just from my quick little stint in the minors and learning the ropes and the change in play.

"Things speed up and a lot more goes into it. I think I'm really prepared and I'm expecting a really good season."

He only pitched in three games with the Gulf Coast League Braves last year before getting called up to short-season Danville, a move that was a little bit of a surprise for the right-hander.

"I guess so. It was an honor, it shows that I did what I was supposed to do in the GCL and I got rewarded for it. That's how it's going to have to be with the minors, just control what you can and hopefully it will lead a path to the majors."

He not only learned the pace of the game last year but he says it was the differences between high school baseball and the professional level that really hit home with him in regards to what is of the utmost importance.

"I would say fastball command," he said. "Everything really works off of your fastball. Throwing strikes is always important no matter what level you're at but really being able to command it in all four quadrants of the strike zone and being able to get hitters out primarily with a fastball and working off of that, that's one thing I really learned."

He also picked up some mechanical tweaks that he says has already improved his game, things like keeping his front shoulder in and not pulling off too much.

"I had two great pitching coaches in the GCL and in Danville, and our pitching coordinator, and even [from] some of my teammates, I tried to pick up whatever I could," he said. "If I see something I like that they do or just picking their minds, anything I can do to get better.

"Just keep your mouth shut and your ears open is one thing I kind of emphasized. I'm just really trying to learn mechanically and get as much knowledge as I can from anybody."

In almost sponge-like fashion, Sims is all about soaking as much knowledge in as he can. A true power pitcher, he has even learned in relatively quick fashion that he can't be on the mound trying to force the issue.

It's not easy for power pitchers to have the presence of mind to keep things going easy and not overthrowing, but just like he learned from his promotion to Danville he's all about controlling what he can control now.

"Command -- reduce walks, keep my pitch counts down, and go deeper into games," he said of his biggest goal for 2013. "Pitching ahead in the count, keep that pitch count low, and throw more innings is what I'd like to do."

Known for his advanced fastball-curveball combination, Sims also likes his changeup at times. He wants to get a bit more consistent with it though. Actually, he wants to get more consistent with everything.

But now that he has a base of knowledge to work with after getting his feet wet at the professional level, he is feeling awfully comfortable as he gets set for his first Spring Training camp.

"I'm pretty confident," he said. "I've done what I was supposed to do this offseason in preparing and getting ready. I think preparation is a big thing that leads towards success so I'm feeling good about this [upcoming] year."

Seemingly a bit more mature than most teenagers, Sims isn't get caught up in the first-year trap of shooting for particular statistics. Rather, he has kept his first full season goals realistic and simple.

"Getting better than I was last year as a player, as a pitcher. As long I learn something to get better -- it's really not all about numbers.

"Some people get caught up in it but as long as I'm doing what I'm supposed to do and really get better, I could look back on it and say that was a good season. It's not about your numbers, it's about how you're getting better," he concluded.

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