The KC Royals family suffered a major blow Sunday morning when the team announced that pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Domincan Republic. Ventura was 25 years old.
MLB.com’s Quinn Roberts reported the story on the Kansas City Royals official web site. Club vice president Mike Swanson told Roberts:
"“It is with a heavy and broken heart that we confirm the passing of Yordano Ventura,” said Royals vice president of communications and broadcasting Mike Swanson."
Yordano Ventura‘s passing bears an eerie resemblance to his friend Oscar Taveras, who died at age 22 in a car accident. Tavares had just finished his first season with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2014, and was also from the Dominican Republic. The then 23-year-old Ventura pitched his most famous start in which he held the San Francisco Giants scoreless in Game 6 of the 2014 World Series. This performance forced a Game 7. Ventura wrote RIP O.T. #18 on his cap as he pitched in the game.
Ventura had long possessed some of the best raw stuff in major league baseball. After a strong rookie season, in which he finished sixth in rookie of the year voting for his 14-10, 3.20 ERA season in 2014, his performance tailed off to 13-8, 4.08 ERA in 2015 and 11-12, with a 4.45 ERA in 2016.
Even so, KC Royals fans and organization hoped Ventura would finally develop into the ace that his terrific “stuff” suggested he could become. Unfortunately, he struggled with his emotions on the mound as opponents often baited him into losing his temper.
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Of course, none of that matters now in the face of this tragedy. Colonel Enrique Rojas of the Dominican Republic police told ESPN.com that the accident occurred in the city of Juan Adrian. Many KC Royals fans and fellow major league players expressed their sorrow on Twitter:
Ventura’s passing obviously leaves a big hole in the Kansas City Royals rotation. But, now is not the time to think about baseball. At this point, the KC Royals family needs to think about healing and things that matter more than what happens on the field.