Pitcher Yordano Ventura, a member of the 2011 Kane County Cougars, has made his Major League debut after playing in Tuesday's game for the Kansas City Royals against Cleveland. Ventura started for the Royals and went into the sixth inning, receiving a standing ovation from the Royals crowd when leaving the game. Ventura pitched 5.2 innings and allowed just five hits in the no-decision. The Royals are currently chasing a postseason spot as the second wild card in the American League and hoping to reach the postseason for the first time in nearly 30 years. The 22-year old Ventura is the 124th former Cougar to reach the majors and the first player from the '11 Cougars squad to make his MLB debut.
Ventura, a non-drafted free agent signing by the Royals in 2008 and a native of Samana, Dominican Republic, joined the Cougars in May 2011. Regarded as having the best fastball in the Royals farm system, Ventura made his Cougars debut on May 15, 2011 at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. In 19 starts at Kane County that season, Ventura was 4-6 with a 4.27 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 84.1 innings of work. His breakout campaign in 2012 included a Carolina League All-Star selection with Class-A Advanced Wilmington and an appearance in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. Ventura was promoted to Double-A Northwest Arkansas last summer and entered the 2013 season as the 4th-best prospect in the Royals system by Baseball America. Splitting this season with Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha, Ventura was 5-4 with a 3.74 ERA during the regular season for Omaha. Ventura pitched for Omaha in the recent Pacific Coast League championship series as the Storm Chasers claimed the PCL title over Salt Lake.
The Cougars, Class-A farm team of the Chicago Cubs, has had at least one former player make a Major League debut in each season dating back to 1993. The list includes Major League All-Stars, World Series champions and former MVP, Rookie of the Year, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award winners.
Notes on Ventura - Ventura is the first Cougar from the 2011 squad to reach the Major Leagues. He's also the first player from the Cougars' two-year affiliation with the Kansas City Royals (2011-12) to reach the big leagues. A total of four former Cougars have made major league debuts in 2013 - Oakland outfielder Michael Choice ('10), Houston catcher Max Stassi ('10) and Washington pitcher Ian Krol ('10). Ventura becomes the second former Cougar to make his MLB debut with Kansas City, joining Chip Ambres ('00-'01), who debuted with the Royals on July 20, 2005.
First Cougars Player to Debut By MLB Affiliation
Baltimore Orioles (Cougars affiliate from 1991-1992): P Brad Pennington ('91 Cougar). Made MLB debut on 4/17/93
Florida Marlins (Cougars affiliate from 1993-2002): P Hector Carrasco ('93 Cougar). Made MLB debut on 4/4/94
Oakland Athletics (Cougars affiliate from 2003-2010): P Santiago Casilla ('03-'04 Cougar): Made MLB debut on 8/9/04
Kansas City Royals (Cougars affiliate from 2011-2012): P Yordano Ventura ('11 Cougar): Made MLB debut on 9/17/13