"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 MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.