Yordano Ventura Dies in Car Accident at 25

by Rocco Constantino | Posted on Sunday, January 22nd, 2017
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Yordano Ventura, a mercurial, budding star for the Kansas City Royals who sent the 2014 World Series to a game seven with a dominant performance on the mound, has died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic.  He was 25.

Ventura, who finished sixth in the 2014 Rookie of the Year voting and was 38-31 in three full seasons, was reported to be under the influence according to ESPN’s Cristian Moreno.

The Royals signed Ventura when he was 17 as an international free agent and he quickly ascended through their minor league system after his start in A ball in 2011.  Ventura earned a September call-up as a 22-year old in 2013 after going 8-6 with a 3.14 ERA in AA and AAA that year.  He struck out 155 over 134 innings in the minors that year.

Ventura debuted September 17, 2013 and outdueled Cleveland Indians star Corey Kluber in the start.  He pitched 5 2/3 innings and left the game with a 3-1 lead before the Royals bullpen allowed the Indians to come back.

The Royals committed to Ventura in the starting rotation the following season and after going 2-5 through May, Ventura started to realize his potential over the final four months of the season, going 12-5 with a 3.05 ERA over that time.  The Royals went 16-5 in those starts.

Ventura often showed flashes of dominance with inconsistency mixed in over the remainder of his career.  He was the starting pitcher for the Royals on opening day in 2015  and again, finished that season on a tremendous roll.  Over the final three months of the season, Ventura buoyed the Royals run to the postseason by going 9-1 over his final ten decisions.

During the Royals postseason runs of 2014 and 2015, Ventura was somewhat of a good luck charm for the team, as they won six of the seven games he appeared in during the postseason despite registering a 4.66 ERA.

His defining moment came as the San Francisco Giants were on the precipice of winning the World Series in six games.  The Royals put up seven runs in the second inning and Ventura dominated from there.  He gave up just two hits through the first six innings and left the game after 100 pitches through seven innings.

During his 2014 game six start, Ventura paid tribute to his friend Oscar Taveras,a fellow Domincan who died in a car accident less than a week earlier.  Ventura wrote the super prospect’s initials and number on his cap for the game and reflected on his death after the game.

“If he was still here, I would for sure be talking to him, and Oscar would be very happy for me and very proud,” Ventura said at the time. “Oscar was a very humble guy and very likable, and I’m going to miss him a lot.”

He reprised that tribute and added Jose Fernandez’s initials to his cap when the star Miami Marlins pitcher died tragically in 2016.

Ventura also pitched a pivotal game for the Royals during their run to a World Series title in 2015 as he was the starting pitcher in the deciding game six of the ALCS.  He held a powerful Toronto Blue Jays lineup to just one run over 5 1/3 innings in a game that the Royals would win 4-3, sending them to the fall classic.  In his only World Series start, he allowed home runs to David Wright and Curtis Granderson as the New York Mets beat him for their only win of the series.

Ventura took a step back in 2015, going 11-12 over 32 starts.  His final start came against the Indians, the same team he made his major league debut against.

For all his promise and success, Ventura also found himself at the middle of controversy at times during his career.  Never afraid to throw inside, Ventura’s pitches incited three bench-clearing brawls over his short career.  This past season, Ventura hit Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado with a 99-MPH pitch in the ribs with the Royals down 5-1 in the fifth.  Machado immediately charged Ventura and both players got in some haymakers before being enveloped by their teammates.

Just ten days prior to his death, Ventura appeared in Guerra, Dominican Republic to present a check for $15,000 to the community to help build a new baseball field in the community.

Ventura’s death comes on the same day as former Cleveland Indians infielder Andy Marte, who also died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic.  Coincidentally, Marte’s final at bat of his career came in the ninth inning of a game that Ventura started in 2014.

As news spread of Ventura’s death on the morning of January 22, the baseball world began to react on Twitter.

 

 

 

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Rocco Constantino
About the Author

Rocco is the author of 50 Moments That Defined Major League Baseball (Available on Amazon now!) and former Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. He is also a die hard Mets fan going back to the awful early 80's and ready for the revival. D2 NCAA softball coach and athletics administrator. Follow Rocco on Twitter @mlb100years.

  • Paul Jack

    Great article Rocco! RIP Yordano







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