When he was just a teen, Yordano Ventura decided to quit school in the Dominican Republic to work in construction. His family needed the money and he worked in the hot sun day after day.
However, his fortunes changed when he received a chance tryout with major league baseball’s Kansas City Royals, which changed his life forever.
His electrifying fastball wowed scouts. His confidence that at times bordered on arrogant and brash served him well. His rise to the majors was quick and in 2015, he helped Kansas City win its first World Series in decades.
However, on Sunday tragedy struck. Ventura, who was just 25, was killed in a one-car accident in the Dominican Republic.
Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore said the players and organization were deeply hurt and in mourning.
Moore added that everyone in the organization loved Yordano.
A spokesperson for the police in the Caribbean island nation said that Ventura was killed on a highway about 40 miles to the northwest of the capital of Santo Domingo.
The spokesperson did not say if Ventura had been driving. Ventura is the second young pitcher who has died during the last four months. Twenty-four year old Jose Fernandez was killed with two others near Miami Beach in a boating accident in September.
In a separate accident on Sunday, Andy Marte, a former infielder in the major leagues, was killed in the Dominican Republic. Traffic officials said Marte died in an accident 95 miles to the north of Santo Domingo.
The Dominican Republic has very dangerous roadways. The country has the second highest death rate that is traffic related in the world. Officials in the Caribbean island believe that speed, alcohol and a disregard for transit laws are to blame.
Former players Jose Uribe, Rufino Linares, Jose Oliva and Oscar Taveras are amongst players whom have been killed in car accidents in the Dominican Republic.
As of yet, there has been no word as to whether Ventura was speeding or had been drinking prior to the accident.
Moore said he speaks frequently with his players who live in Latin American about the dangers of returning during the offseason to their homeland, which includes talking about driving on the many perilous roads.
Ventura will be laid to rest on Tuesday said team officials. Teammates, manager Ned Yost and Moore are expected to attend Ventura’s funeral.