Former Nationals Minor Leaguer Richie Mirowski died earlier this month, according to ex-teammates and friends.
Mirowski, 28, was found unresponsive in his California home on Nov. 4, just a few weeks after he signed with the independent Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.
Mirowski was the Nationals' 45th-round pick in the 2011 Draft out of Oklahoma Baptist and spent four seasons in the Minors, reaching Double-A Harrisburg in 2014. He went 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA and 183 strikeouts in 163 1/3 innings over 101 career games before he was released by Washington in March 2015.
Friends this week set up a GoFundMe memorial page. The family has planned a funeral service for Nov. 20 in Burlingame, California.
"The [RedHawks and] I are saddened by the sudden passing of RHP Richie Mirowski," tweeted Michael Schlact, who managed Mirowski in the independent American Association. "He was a great pitcher, but more importantly, he was a great person. I was blessed to get to know him over the last few years. Rest In Peace, Ski Ski."
The team's general manager, Josh Buchholz, also acknowledged Mirowski's passing on Nov. 8, although news began to spread on social media on Tuesday once the memorial fund was established.
"I want to pass on my deepest condolences [to] the family, friends and teammates of our pitcher Richie Mirowski," Buchholz tweeted. "He is gone far too soon and we will miss his presence in the clubhouse this summer."
The Class A Advanced Potomac Nationals also urged fans to visit the memorial page on Tuesday.
Mirowski spent two seasons at Cuesta College before joining Oklahoma Baptist in 2010. He went 11-2 with a 3.54 ERA in 16 starts in 2011, enough to earn a Draft selection from Washington that summer. He appeared in 14 games for Class A Short Season Auburn that year and split the 2012 season between the Doubledays and Class A Hagerstown. The Nationals promoted him to Potomac in 2013 and he later spent 13 games with Harrisburg that year before splitting the 2014 campaign again between both affiliates.
Fans voted Mirowski the best reliever in the Minors in the 2013 MiLBY Awards after he went 10-3 with a 1.83 ERA in 45 outings. He struck out 88 and walked 15 across two levels.
Injuries slowed his 2014 season and, after his release, he pitched for Amarillo in the independent American Association and Washington in the Frontier League in 2015. He appeared in four games with Fargo-Moorhead last year, going 1-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 19 1/3 innings. The league said he had re-signed with the club on Oct. 17.