Sims' season put in perspective by May bus crash

Sims' season put in perspective by May bus crash

ATLANTA -- Lucas Sims spent this summer rekindling the tremendous promise that has existed since he was taken by the Braves in the first round of the 2012 Draft. The 21-year-old native of suburban Atlanta capped an eventful year with yet another strong performance in the Arizona Fall League.

As Sims and his loved ones look back on 2015, they can be appreciative of the steps he took toward realizing his dream to one day be a part of Atlanta's starting rotation. But they'll forever be most thankful of the fact that he and the rest of his Class A Advanced Carolina teammates proved quite fortunate to avoid serious injury after their team bus overturned near the North Carolina-South Carolina border during the wee hours of May 12.

"When you look back on this year, you really count your blessings," Sims said. "It was eventful, but overall I thought it was a great year."

After flourishing in the nine starts he made after earning a promotion to Double-A Mississippi in July, Sims took advantage of the opportunity to test himself among some of the game's other top prospects in this year's AFL. He posted a 2.12 ERA in the six appearances he made for the Peoria Javelinas, which featured five other players who were involved in the bus crash -- Connor Lien, Joseph Odom, Johan Camargo, Mauricio Cabrera and Andrew Thurman.

The accident occurred approximately an hour before the Mudcats were scheduled to complete their trip from Salem, Va., to Myrtle Beach, S.C. The driver was heard yelling just before the bus exited the roadway and entered a ditch in front of a set of railroad tracks, narrowly missing a row of trees.

"It could have been much worse, so that is something to definitely be thankful for," said Sims, who was taken with the 21st overall selection in 2012. "You count your blessings and realize you can't take anything for granted."

After posting a 4.66 ERA in '14, Sims was forced to remain in the Carolina League at the start of the '15 season. He impressed during both of his first two May starts and was a week or two away from a promotion when he exited the bus crash with a hip injury that sidelined him for six weeks. He returned to Carolina's rotation in early July and needed just three starts to convince the Braves he was ready for Double-A.

Sims posted a 1.50 ERA and limited opponents to a .151 batting average during the final six starts he made for Mississippi. He extended this success as he competed in the AFL, giving up six hits while striking out 13 over the final 12 innings he worked for Peoria.

"The 2014 season was tough, but it was a great learning experience," Sims said. "I had a lot of things to work on with my development, including being able to make those adjustments you have to make to become a successful big leaguer. I'm not all the way there yet, but this year I thought was a big stepping stone. I was very happy with the way I finished."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.