Baltimore infield prospect Ramon Ramirez was killed in a motorcycle accident in his native Dominican Republic on Saturday night. He was 23 years old.
Ramirez's death is the second in a week's time for a Minor Leaguer in the Dominican Republic. Houston's Jose Rosario, a 20-year-old pitching prospect, was also killed in a motorcycle crash on Jan. 24.
"Our entire organization is deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic death of Ramon Ramirez," Baltimore's Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette said in a statement. "As a member of the Orioles organization, Ramon worked tirelessly to make the most of his opportunity to play professional baseball. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, teammates and coaches as we mourn this unimaginable loss."
Ramirez's motorcycle was struck by a vehicle when he was leaving a softball game Saturday night in his hometown of La Romana, according to a report from MASN. A team official told MASN Ramirez's girlfriend was riding on the back of the motorcycle and survived the crash, but suffered a broken leg.
"To be honest with you, I think he was the kind of example of how to work," said Orlando Gomez, Ramirez's manager at Frederick last season. "He loved to work every day. Through [batting practice], he takes ground balls at second, third, short, turning double plays. He was very enthusiastic. Every day, he was ready to play. When he didn't play, he was there watching the game, and I liked him because his attitude and the way he handled himself was very professional.
"It's very hard when those things happen because you don't like to see a young guy at that age, 23 years old, pass away the way it happened. You don't want to see it, but I think it sends a message to other young people to be careful with whatever they're doing, driving a motorcycle, driving a car, whatever they're doing. Be careful."
Ramirez's teammates also weighed in on social media.
"This hit me hard," Orioles pitching prospect Kevin Grendell said in a comment on the MiLB.com Facebook page. "Ramon was a teammate of mine this last season. We didn't talk much because we didn't speak the same language, but I will not forget watching how hard this man worked to get the dream. Prayers out to his family and loved ones."
The Orioles signed Ramirez as a non-drafted free agent in 2014. The infielder debuted that summer with a .286/.375/.357 line in 32 games for the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League Orioles. He moved to the States in 2015 and split 23 games between the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Orioles, Class A Short Season Aberdeen and Class A Advanced Frederick.
Ramirez was a versatile defensive player who saw extended action at second base, third and shortstop. During his debut season in the DSL, Ramirez registered hits in 23 of his 32 games including 10 multi-hit performances. His best showing came on July 16, 2014 when he went 4-for-6 with four runs scored, a double and a pair driven in against the Mariners.