Major League Baseball's owner-imposed lockout remains ongoing, but that doesn't mean Prospect Watch is caught on the wrong side of a padlock. Rather, each Friday CBS Sports will be bringing you analysis on a draftee or an industry-wide trend worth monitoring. 

Though the college baseball season is only a week old, the upcoming pitching class has already been weakened by injuries, suspension (ECU left-hander Carson Whisenhunt), and personal decision (Kumar Rocker not returning to Vanderbilt). All the spring upheaval has created an opportunity for others to rise up the ranks between now and the summer's draft. Take, for instance, Mississippi State righty Landon Sims, who now has the chance to position himself as the top collegiate starter in the class.

Sims, ranked 18th on CBS Sports preseason list, received the Opening Day nod against Long Beach State. He held the Dirtbags to one run on five hits and no walks over seven innings, striking out 13 of the 25 batters he faced and tossing 81 pitches. He took the loss anyway, as the Bulldogs were unable to muster anything against Long Beach State right-hander Luis Ramirez (himself an interesting draft prospect).

For Sims, the start was a first impression in multiple regards. In addition to being his seasonal debut, it was the first start of his collegiate career. Over the course of the previous two seasons, he'd compiled a 1.82 ERA and strikeout rate of 16 per nine innings in 32 relief appearances. Scouts had wondered how he would take to longer assignments, and his outing against the Dirtbags offered both pros and cons.

Sims' fastball and slider have received praise for forming one of the top two-pitch pairings in the class. His heater features good carry and can touch into the upper-90s. His slider, meanwhile, is as good of a hook as anything written by Adam Schlesinger. Sims has also been credited for his bulldog demeanor, and his feel for the zone. Where he's been debited is with his changeup and his command, a combination that has left evaluators concerned about his long-term viability as a starting pitcher.

Sims' first start essentially served as a confirmation of prior beliefs for both his boosters and his critics. True to form, he consistently missed bats throughout his outing, particularly when he located his fastball at or above the batters' thighs. He showed a feel for throwing his slider within the zone, too, giving him additional usability. Also true to form, he didn't show much of a changeup, and he appeared to fatigue early.

According to data obtained by CBS Sports, Sims' fastball averaged between 94 and 95 mph over the first four frames. That number slipped to 93 mph in the fifth and then declined again to 92 mph in the sixth and the seventh. His command deteriorated right alongside his fastball, and he reached his first and second three-ball count of the day in consecutive plate appearances in the seventh inning. Sims then surrendered a home run on a missed fastball location to the next batter that broke the scoreless tie.

That Sims suffered such velocity and command losses beginning around the 70-pitch mark of a largely efficient outing is of concern to teams. Evaluators couldn't help but wonder afterward what he'll look like later in the season, or when he's forced to make more high-leverage pitches during the course of a grueling SEC contest. How those scenarios play out are to be seen, but they will go a long way in dictating his stock. Ditto for the prevailing thinking within any given team's front office about the future of the starting pitcher position. 

After all, it used to be that starters needed three or four pitches and the ability to work into the seventh inning. Times have changed. Starters these days can prioritize their best two offerings. Moreover, teams are willing to remove them four or five innings deep, lest they fall victim to the times-thru penalty. Sims may not feel like a starter by the traditional standards, but his skill set aligns almost perfectly with the modern definition. 

Unless Sims can answer the criticisms held against him in a convincing manner over the next few months, he's likely to remain subject to philosophical debates about what, exactly, a starting pitcher is anymore.