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LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. -- Growing up, Lawrenceville native Lucas Sims idolized Chipper Jones, John Smoltz, and all the Atlanta Braves.

As of Monday night, Sims is an Atlanta Brave -- or, at least, a player in the Braves organization. He was selected in the first round of last night's Major League Baseball draft.

For Sims, the journey began as a child, when he would put on an oversized Braves hat and head outside with his father.

Recalls his mother Jean, "He would be in the backyard playing whiffle ball with his dad, and they would grow through the entire [Braves starting] line-up."

And how long would Sims stay out there? "Until Dad got tired," he says.

In time, Sims would begin making memories for a different baseball team -- the Broncos of Brookwood High School.

"To me, with Lucas, it's not about the hype," says his former Brookwood coach Rick Howard. "The hype is all great, but the kid loves to work, and the kid loves to develop."

And as for where he could end up, says his mom? "Playing for the hometown team ... that was always in the back of your mind, like, 'Wow, could he be a Brave one day?'"

Sims' family knew one thing: after several years of being scouted and profiled on various web sites, their 18-year-old pitcher would almost definitely be selected early in Monday's draft. When the Braves became on the clock in the first round, Sims' ears perked up.

"I paid a little extra attention and my heart started going a bit," he says. "The five minutes they were on the clock, I was just sitting there, really wanting the Braves to pick me."

And they did, with the 21st pick in the first round.

"When I heard my name called," Sims says, "all my emotions ran through my body at the same time."

"I'm doing my best to stay calm; trust me, on the inside, I'm bursting with joy. It's unbelievable."

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