Wilmington, DE -- Former Wilmington Blue Rocks pitcher Yordano Ventura died early Sunday morning as the result of a car accident in his native Dominican Republic. Ventura, who pitched with Wilmington in 2012 and helped the Royals win a world championship in 2015, was 25 years old.
"Our prayers right now are with Yordano's family as we mourn this young man's passing," said Royals Senior VP of Baseball Operations and General Manager Dayton Moore in a press release. "He was so young and so talented, full of youthful exuberance and always brought a smile to everyone he interacted with. We will get through this as an organization, but right now is a time to mourn and celebrate the life of Yordano."
Ventura came to the Blue Rocks as a highly regarded right-handed prospect, whose fastball piqued the interest of virtually every scout. He posted a 3.30 ERA and fanned 98 in 76.1 frames with Wilmington. Ventura yielded just a .229 batting average against in the Carolina League before being promoted to Double-A in early July.
"Yordano was a charismatic young man," said former Blue Rocks Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations John Sadak, who traveled with the team when Ventura was with the Rocks. "He would readily flash a brilliant smile and had such a deep passion for the game. I could not believe the news when I heard it. Baseball has lost a stellar talent and intense competitor."
Ventura spent his entire professional career in the Royals' organization after signing as a non-drafted free agent in 2008. He made his Major League debut on September 17, 2013, pitched in two World Series (2014, 2015) with Kansas City, and helped the franchise win their second ever world championship in 2015. He held a 38-31 career record in 94 games and 93 starts at the Major League level. The righty also made nine career postseason starts.
The Blue Rocks organization honored Ventura's accomplishments last season when they gave fans a flame-throwing bobblehead in the pitcher's likeness before a July game.
According to the team's website the Royals were still were collecting details as of Sunday, but there were reports out of the Dominican that the crash took place on a highway in Rancho Arriba, a town in the province of San Jose de Ocoa.
Ventura's hometown is in Las Terrenas, where the funeral services are expected to take place. He is survived by his wife, Maria del Pilar Sangiovanni, whom he married before the 2016 season.