Pirates Minor Leaguer Evan Chambers died over the weekend, according to a statement from the team on Monday night. He was 24.
The right-handed center fielder was drafted by the Pirates in the third round of the 2009 Draft out of Hillsborough (Fla.) Community College. He spent five seasons with Pittsburgh, reaching Double-A in 2012, and appeared in just four games this past season following a foot injury.
"All of us at the Pittsburgh Pirates are shocked and saddened by Evan's sudden passing in his sleep this past weekend," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "Beyond being just a talented ballplayer, Evan was a great teammate and a quiet leader who went about his craft as a professional every day.
"Off the field, Evan loved making a difference in the community, and often dedicated a lot of his time working with children in the communities in which he played. Our heartfelt sympathies and prayers go out to his family for this unimaginable loss. He was far too young. He will be missed."
Chambers' teammates were quick to express their disbelief and sadness following the news of his passing.
"So sad to hear about Chambo passing away. He was always one of my favorite teammates," top Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon wrote on Twitter. "Such a great guy. Too young."
"Can't help but question why you were taken so early," Pittsburgh catcher Tony Sanchez Tweeted. "Makes me sick. RIP Evan Chambers. Love you man."
"My prayers go out to the Chambers family. Such an amazing young man taken way to soon," said Pirates right-hander Ryan Hafner.
Red Sox second baseman Brock Holt, who came up through the Pirates system, offered his feelings: "Completely heartbroken... Evan Chambers was as good as they come. Can't believe you're gone. Love you brother, always."
Chambers was born on March 24, 1989 in Miami, Fla., and he graduated from Lakeland Senior High School. He was originally drafted by the Rockies in the 19th round of the 2007 Draft, but opted to attend college and eventually signed with Pittsburgh after he was selected two years later.
The 5-foot-11 outfielder made his professional debut with short-season State College in 2009, appearing in 58 games, before receiving a promotion to Class A West Virginia in 2010. That was arguably his best season -- he hit .239 with a career-high 12 homers and 52 RBIs while stealing 35 bases and drawing 92 walks. He followed that up at Class A Advanced Bradenton, where he hit 11 homers and 55 RBIs, before splitting the 2012 campaign between Bradenton and Double-A Altoona. Chambers was limited to just four games with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Pirates in 2013, going 1-for-13.
Reese McGuire, the Pirates' first-round pick in 2013, had a chance to play alongside Chambers this past summer in the GCL.
"RIP to my teammate and friend Evan Chambers," McGuire wrote on Twitter. "Only got to know him just this year, but he was a freak athlete and an even better guy."
Dozens of other players offered their thoughts on Chambers' passing:
Very saddened to hear about a person I played against throughout pro ball having passed today. Rip Evan chambers you will be missed- Jarred Cosart (@JarredCosart) December 2, 2013
So sad to hear about the passing of Evan Chambers. I remember playing against him in 2010, pray for peace n clarity for his family & friends- Matt Hobgood (@MattHobgood) December 2, 2013
Truly sad to hear about the passing of Evan Chambers..way to young to go man..much love- Tyson Gillies (@TysonGillies21) December 2, 2013
RIP Evan Chambers. Great guy, God Bless his family and friends.- Austin Meadows (@austin_meadows) December 2, 2013
Sad to hear about Evan Chambers. Prayers out to his friends and family.- Xavier Scruggs (@Xavier_Scruggs) December 2, 2013
My thoughts and prayers go out to Evan Chambers and his family, I'm so incredibly sorry for your loss #RIPEvanChambers- Phillip Irwin (@FilthyPhil36) December 2, 2013
Good guy and teammate but I never question god calling but I'm hurt and in shock #ripevanchambers- Bryton T. (@Bryton32) December 2, 2013
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of former Spike Evan Chambers. #RIPEvanChambers- State College Spikes (@SCSpikes) December 2, 2013
My heart is in shock rite now I really can't believe you had to go that fast a good friend #ripevanchambers good teammate- Bryton T. (@Bryton32) December 2, 2013
Wow I can't believe the news I just got. Came pretty close with Chambers this summer. A great dude. #RIPEvanChambers- Justin Maffei (@J__Maffei) December 2, 2013