Twins left-handed prospect Paul Bargas died Tuesday night after battling a rare form of brain cancer. He was 23.
Bargas, who was drafted by the Rockies in 2009, was diagnosed with primary central nervous system lymphoma last year after reporting to Spring Training with Minnesota. The southpaw, who was traded to the Twins before the 2011 season, underwent chemotherapy for the past year at UCLA Medical Center in California and had hoped to make a comeback this season with Class A Advanced Fort Myers.
"He's battled this thing off and on," Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony told MLB.com. "He's had some setbacks. I got a message from our scout, John Leavitt, on Monday that he had taken a turn for the worse. And I got the news [Tuesday] night he had passed away.
"But when we were in Anaheim on the last trip [in early May], Leavitt, who did a great job keeping in touch with Paul and his family, and I went to UCLA Medical Center to see Paul. He hadn't eaten in a few days, but when we saw him, he was in really good spirits. We were there for two hours. Every time we got up, he kept saying, 'I'm all right, I'm all right.'"
Bargas last pitched in 2010 for Class A Asheville in the Rockies organization. He was 5-4 with five saves and a 3.59 ERA in 58 relief appearances. The California native was optimistic earlier this year he could return to the mound.
"Succumbing to the idea of dying would be, in my eyes, like backing down from a fight," Bargas told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in January. "Regardless of how big it is, whether it's a hitter or a disease."
The UC-Riverside product never pitched for the Twins but said he appreciated being part of an organization that cared so much about his well-being and future.
"The thing he talked about the most was, 'I can't believe you guys traded for me and I never played a game for you guys, but you treat me like family,'" Antony said. "And I said, 'You are the minute we Draft you or trade for you.' He was an unbelievable person. I'm serious. There was a never a 'Why me?' in him."
Bargas is survived by his wife, Victoria. The Twins will announce funeral arrangements once information becomes available.