It seems far too soon, however the baseball community was once again impacted in a tragic way.
Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was the victim of a fatal car accident in the Dominican Republic on Sunday, Jan. 22 at just 25 years of age. He joins the late Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez as the second pitcher under the age of 25 to pass away in the last four months. Fernandez was killed in a boating accident the morning of Sept. 25, 2016.
Ventura also had close ties to Oscar Taveras, the St. Louis Cardinals outfielder killed in 2014. Ventura’s accident happened the same day in the Dominican Republic as former Cleveland Indians veteran Andy Marte, who was also killed in an unrelated accident.
The impact young players have had over the last few seasons has been more noticed than in previous years. Minor league players or star draft picks have developed into future perennial All-Stars. Players such as Mike Trout, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper have all become household names in the eyes of MLB fans. Fernandez was surely on his way, and Ventura had boasted a World Series ring on his resume.
These are freak accidents that the victims have little to no control over. It is unfortunate that these men have to exit the world the way that they did, never knowing their impacts on the game of baseball or life itself.
Ventura may have not made the same impact statistically as Fernandez, but he certainly had the same potential, having a fastball that topped out at 102 miles per hour. However, his teammates and the baseball community reacted just the same when learning of his death, recognizing a player gone too soon.
Many young players such as Ventura come into the league from outside of the U.S. and are sometimes “magically” discovered by a scout who takes a chance on them, hoping they pan out from a raw prospect into a future stud. Ventura was laid to rest on Tuesday, according to CBS Sports, and the funeral ceremony took place in his hometown of Las Terrenas on the mound where he was discovered by a Royals scout.
It’s impossible to know when or if something tragic like this will ever happen, and the impact of Ventura’s death will be honored by the Royals organization and MLB, just as the death of Fernandez was last season. To the players, losing a player in the league is like losing a brother, feeling the loss of someone who has worked just as hard, if not harder, than they have to earn a spot on a major league roster, something millions dream of but only maybe a couple of thousand achieve. Ventura was known at times for his short temper and erratic throw-ins on players, but he had still worked to obtain the skills necessary to become a starting pitcher in MLB.
Ventura’s death will be felt around the league, as he is yet another player taken too early. Even worse, it is a shame that he is not the only player in the past few seasons we have had to mention in this type of conversation.
Matt Lamb is a broadcasting and visual media major from Howell, N.J. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @MattS_Lamb.