Major League Baseball and its fans mourn today the losses of two players in separate car crashes in the Dominican Republic overnight.
Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura and former big leaguer Andy Marte were both killed in different accidents in their native Dominican Republic. Ventura was just 25. Marte was 33.
JMG Baseball, the representing agency of Marte, broke the news on Twitter Sunday morning about his death. According to ESPN.com, the car Marte was in struck a house along the road.
News of Ventura’s passing came via the Associated Press and was confirmed by his agency, ISE Baseball, on Twitter.
“We suffered an incredible loss today,” the agency said in a statement Sunday. “Our hearts and souls are broken with the passing of Yordano Ventura. Yordano’s heart and passion for the game of baseball and for life had no equal. Today we lost a teammate, who never backed down; a friend who never let you down’ and a brother, who always made you smile. Rest in peace.”
Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, released a statement on the tragic losses.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Andy Marte and Yordano Ventura. It’s never easy to lose a member of our fraternity, and there are no words to describe the feeling of losing two young men in the prime of their lives. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families, friends, teammates and fans throughout the United States and Latin America.”
Marte was a highly touted third base prospect early on in his career after signing with the Atlanta Braves in 2000. Early in his minor league career, he showed an ability to hit for a high average with good power from the right side of the plate and was rated as the number nine prospect by Baseball America prior to the 2005 season. He made his debut with the Braves that season, appearing in 24 games while hitting .140. Following the season, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for shortstop Edgar Renteria, but less than two months later, he joined the Indians organization when he was traded by Boston with three other players and cash to Cleveland for Josh Bard, Coco Crisp, and David Riske.
Marte spent parts of the next five seasons with the Indians, appearing in as many as 81 games in 2010, but his minor league production never translated to the Major League level. He hit a career-high six homers in 2009 in just 47 games, but spent much of that season in Triple-A.
He joined the Pittsburgh Pirates organization in December of 2010 and spent the 2011 season with their Triple-A club. He did not play in 2012, but returned to professional baseball in 2013 with the Los Angeles Angels’ Triple-A team after putting up good numbers in the independent Atlantic League. He joined the Arizona Diamondbacks the next season and made his final six Major League appearances, hitting .188 with a homer and three RBI.
He had played the last two seasons overseas with the KT Wiz of the Korean Baseball Organization, hitting .348 in 2015 before batting .265 last season.
Ventura was a well-known opponent for the Cleveland Indians, as the hard-throwing right-hander made his Major League debut against them on September 17, 2013. After appearing in three games that season, he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 31 games (30 starts) for the American League champion Royals club in 2014. He went 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 28 starts the following season as Kansas City won the World Series.
Last season, he went 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.44 WHIP for the Royals and threw the only two complete games of his career. Ten of Ventura’s 54 career games came against the Indians, who he was 4-3 against with a 3.41 ERA and 1.40 WHIP over 60 2/3 innings.
Photo: AP Photo/Amy Sancetta