Landon Sims had a few goals this spring: Hit 95 mph with his fastball, keep his ERA under 1.50, and give South Forsyth a chance to win in every one of the junior’s starts. He hit that velocity early in the year, so that gave him the rest of the season to concentrate on his other goals.
The outcome was exactly what Sims envisioned, and probably better. The Mississippi State commit started 11 games, and South Forsyth won 10 of them, en route to a Region 5-7A title and berth in the second round of the state playoffs. And Sims was the most dominant pitcher in the region and county, earning All-FCN Pitcher of the Year by striking out 80 batters and allowing just 34 hits in 62 innings, recording an 0.90 ERA along the way.
Sims has been a varsity starter all three of his years at South Forsyth, and he committed to the Bulldogs before his sophomore year started, so opponents have had plenty of time to adjust to and key in on the righthander.
And Sims himself admits that his strategy of going fastball 75 to 80 percent of the time isn’t much of a secret. Much of his focus this year, then, was devoted to mixing his pitches better and developing different looks. He complemented his bump in velocity with a change in fastball strategy, leaning much more on a two-seamer, and changed the grip on his slider and changeup.
“Throwing my offspeed (pitches) more is the biggest thing, because it gets guys off-balance a lot, and it makes my fastball better when I throw my offspeed pitches more,” Sims said. “…All of my pitches have gotten better, even my fastball.”
Sims could receive plenty of attention from pro scouts due to his combination of strong stuff and excellent athleticism, and he hopes to follow a similar path to Forsyth Central’s Ethan Hankins, with his eye on appearances in the East Coast Pro showcase and the Under Armour and Perfect Game all-American games.
But he’s not looking to follow in those exact footsteps. Hankins played on the USA Baseball 18U National Team this past fall, and while Sims played on the 15U squad two years ago, he’s already decided not to try out, wanting to avoid the potential damage an extra-long season could do to his arm.
And there’s also the allure of another sport. Sims was a First Team All-FCN selection at safety for the War Eagles’ football team last fall, and he’s set on getting back to the gridiron in 2018, joining in South’s spring practices after the baseball season ended. Even though athletes with Sims’ potential in baseball routinely toss aside other sporting commitments, Sims isn’t ready to do that just yet.
“I’ve thought about it,” Sims said. “But I know in my mind (that) I would definitely regret not playing if I ended up not playing next year. I’ve played the first three years of high school, and I feel like I’ve got to finish it out and give it my all out there.”