When the Cincinnati Reds traded Adam Duvall to the Atlanta Braves they got, what felt like at the time, an absolute steal of talent in return. It wasn’t so much because they landed an All-Star caliber player. But it was more so that they got some upside with team control. It was what they got for a player in Adam Duvall. He had a .205/.286/.399 line through 105 games at age 29 when traded. Cincinnati got back right-handed pitcher Lucas Sims in the deal that also included Matt Wisler, and the soon-after-the-trade released Preston Tucker.

Lucas Sims is no longer considered a prospect by conventional standards. When the term prospect is used in baseball, it is speaking about a player who has rookie of the year eligibility left. Not every place uses the same criteria for that, though. Everyone uses 50 innings pitched or 130 at-bats as the cutoff point. But not everyone uses the less often mentioned 45-days on the active, non-September Major League roster. The rankings at this site does use that, but Baseball America for example, does not. Sims, however, has thrown 73.1 innings in the Major Leagues and is no longer “a prospect”.

When Lucas Sims was eligible as a prospect, he was well regarded. He peaked as the #40 prospect in baseball according to Baseball Prospectus. That was a while ago, though. He was the top prospect at one point in the Braves farm system. Sims ranked in the top five three different times within the organization. But his last season he was eligible, he finished the year ranked 14th in their organization. The system was absolutely loaded that year for Atlanta – so it’s not quite the same as being rated 14th in almost any other organization. That same season he was a Top 20 prospect in the Southern League, which is usually something organizational Top 5 guys wind up with.

There’s a term in the prospect and baseball world – post-hype sleeper. Essentially, it’s describing a player who used to be valued far more than they are today, but still has a chance based on their inherent talent to bust through. Fangraphs Eric Longenhagen pegged Lucas Sims as potentially being one of those guys earlier today.

He noted how poorly Lucas Sims season in the Major Leagues was in 2017. He posted a 5.62 ERA for Atlanta in 57.2 innings and struggled to miss bats. His control wasn’t great that year – though it was improved over what happened in 2016 when he walked 92 batters in 141.0 innings. In 2018 with the Braves Triple-A team and after his arrival in the Reds organization, his control was solid. And his strikeout rate was very strong. He had 39 walks and 115 strikeouts at the Triple-A level in 101.1 innings.

One reason that Longenhagen seems to think there’s a chance that Lucas Sims can figure it out is the improvement he made with his release point. In the article he shows the release points from 2017 and 2018. In 2017 the chart is an absolute mess. The one from 2018 is a much tighter cluster that shows a far more consistent release point. That usually coincides with better control.

At the beginning of the year it’s quite unlikely that Lucas Sims is pitching in Cincinnati. The rotation is locked in, and even if it weren’t he’s still down the depth chart a bit. In the bullpen most of it is locked in and when push comes to shove he’s down that depth chart a bit too, and he’s got options unlike a few other players vying for a spot. But the still 24-year-old has some real stuff to work with, including a plus curveball. If he can improve his control a little bit, there’s reason to believe that he could still bust out for the Reds in one role or another.

16 Responses

  1. RedFuture

    I agree that Sims could put up such a fabulous first half at Louisville that the Reds have almost no choice but to stick him in the Reds rotation. The same can be said of Mahle, Romano, and others. The Bats rotation is going to be stacked and that AAA team should lead their league in wins. The odds are quite high that at least one of the Reds big five become injured or under perform enough to let an on-fire young stud take over. It should be a very interesting season this year!

  2. Simon Cowell

    The Reds would have to dump a player or two to make room for Sims on the 25 man roster.

      • Simon Cowell

        Valid point. His placement makes me even more curious as to what the Reds will do with Bob Steve

      • asinghoff99

        Doug, if the Reds ever trade Robert Stephenson, wouldn’t he fall under the same category as Sims as a “post-hype sleeper?”

    • Andrew

      Or two? Is he ohtani and theres a rule change i dont know about?

      • Simon Cowell

        Well im considering Robert Stephenson as well considering he has no options left.

  3. Brad

    My only real criticisms of Reds off-season are: 1) Overpaying for Sonny Gray and 2) Trading for Tanner Roark.

    To be clear, #2 is only a criticism due to moves that came after. At the time, Reds could not hav known they were going to acquire Wood and Gray. I would be fine with one of Mahle, Romano, Sims as Reds 2019 #5 SP. Plus, they would be $9.4M cheaper. While Reds are $7.5M under their supposed $130M, every $ counts.

    I do wish Reds would front load some of their contracts. With the $7.5M in space, $16.9M if no Roark, they could have paid more up front on players such as Sonny Gray and led to cheaper contracts when Reds are in prime of contention window and younger players are deeper into Arbitration or extensions.

    • Ryan

      Disagree with almost every word lol. First, I dont think the Reds overpayed for Gray. Great rebound candidate, he still had a 1.7 fwar, 4.17FIP season last year. The package for him was steep but i really think people undervalued him bc the Yanks were almost certainly trading him(key point, trade, not giving him away).

      Secondly, Tanner Roark was a huge pick-up. The Reds have two starters, Disco and Alex Wood, who have had hard times staying healthy in recent seasons. Roark adds durability and league average results, not sexy, but damn important if you want to be relevent when September rolls around. He makes a lot of money, but pitched better than some guys getting 2 year 20 mil deals.

      Mahle, Romano, and Sims start in AAA, where their 2018 seasons indicate they belong. Cody Reed should be first up when the time comes anyways, as his 2018 was head and shoulders above the other 3(and i believe he was the highest rated as propect) .

      The Reds have plenty of future payroll flexibility. When(not if) they up Peraza and Castillo long term, i think it might be better to back-load the deals, as Votto’s contract will be near enough to its expiration date. Still 3 or 4 more years before the 2nd year players and current rookies start getting expensive.

    • Patrick

      I completely agree with you. I think we got one too many starters. We need Mahle or Reed in the rotation to create a core rotation. Sending them to AAA just delays or disrupts the opening of a competitive window.

      I agree on the overpaying of Sonny Gray, Who I think is more likely a regression candidate than a rebound candidate. His Oakland days are behind him and Oakland and the AL West is extremely pitcher friendly. GABP and the NL Central is much tougher for pitchers. I expect him to have a mid 4 era and get worse.

      • MuddyCleats

        Worried about arm health before they made the deal and day one he’s got arm problems……could the Yankees known something was wrong….??

  4. AlphaZero

    I have Sims behind Reed and Mahle on the SP depth chart, but he’s definitely an interesting “change of scenery” candidate. If he does well at AAA, I’m sure we’ll see him make at least a handful of appearances at the MLB level in 2019.

    • Cguy

      “Romano, Lorenzen, Mahle, Reed, Finnegan, & R. Stephenson will get a starters’ workload of innings in camp even if they aren’t expected to be in the starting rotation” David Bell said yesterday. Sims not mentioned, but that might not mean much. The inclusion of Finnegan & R. Stephenson does though.

  5. The Duke

    Sims, along with Mahle and Reed, I keep starting until there are no options left, so their most logical starting point this year is in AAA. With Roark and Wood on 1 year deals, and Disco’s most probable outcome being another trip to the disabled list at some point this year, we’re going to need more starters sooner rather than later. It’ll be interesting to see who fills out the backend of the Bats rotation. Will Mella get one more shot? Will Vlad Gut or Santillan get a push and start there instead of AA? Romano one more shot at starting if they want to hold onto Bob Steve or Wisler in the big league pen? One of the various veteran retreads we bring in each year? Almost time for spring games, a little over 5 weeks until real games.

    • asinghoff99

      This is why I love baseball. Chess, not checkers.

      Buckle up!