The baseball community was shocked once again Sunday morning as reports began to circulate that the life of Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura was tragically cut short in a car accident. The 25-year-old was back home in the Dominican Republic, where he would have been leaving to attend spring training in Florida in only a few weeks.
For the second time in four months, baseball fans must cope with losing one of the game’s bright young pitchers. Marlins’ ace Jose Fernandez passed away in September in a boating accident. After signing as an undrafted free agent, Ventura spent the past eight seasons in the Royals’ organization. After a dominant rookie season in 2014 that helped the Royals clinch their first playoff appearance since 1985, he signed a five year contract extension with the team that could have paid him $45 million up until 2021.
At the end of the 2013 season, Ventura was ranked 26th on Baseball America’s top prospects list. His relatively small frame for a pitcher, at just six feet tall and 195 pounds, was perhaps a direct correlation to his hard work that put him in that spot after just signing for $28,000 in 2008. His hard work paid off, and to the benefit of the Royals, they had a bright young star that helped them make back to back World Series after years of dreadful performances.
After a couple of shaky seasons, Ventura was still considered a key piece of the Royals core, and many still believed he had what it took to become one of the league’s best young pitchers. However, just like with Fernandez, the world will be left to wonder what he could have done in the remainder of his career.
Ventura’s death wasn’t the only one to hit the baseball world by surprise Sunday, as former Cleveland Indians’ infielder Andy Marte was also killed in a separate car accident Sunday morning in the Dominican Republic. Marte was only 33. In Marte’s final game of his major league career back on August 6, 2014, Ventura was the opposing starting pitcher.
Although no one can say for sure whether or not speed and/or alcohol led to the accident, reports came out Sunday night that no alcohol was found on the scene of the accident. It will take up to three weeks for toxicology reports to determine whether or not Ventura was under the influence of any alcohol or drugs, which unfortunately was the case for Fernandez back in September.