It's Yordano Ventura's infectious personality that will most be missed by his baseball colleagues and the organization that signed him at the age of 17. The right-hander was known for both his skills on the mound and his affable manner in the locker room.
“Everybody in our organization is hurting right now. We were truly blessed to have been a part of his life. He will always be a special part of our organization," said Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore in a conference call.
Ventura was a major part of one of the better pitching staffs in Major League Baseball.
In the Dominican Republic, the native son is missed terribly by family, friends and colleagues.
"He was an inspiration to every kid," his coach Silvano Santos, who coached Ventura from age 7 to 14, told the Associated Press.
The Kansas City Royals pitcher, who was only 25, tragically lost his life in a car accident Sunday in his native Dominican Republic. He will be buried on Tuesday in his native town of Las Terrenas, in Samaná, in the northeastern part of the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic was reeling from the deaths of two baseball stars, both in car accidents, on the same day: Ventura and former major league infielder Andy Marte.
The country's president, Danilo Medina, tweeted after their deaths that the Dominican Republic was in mourning with the deaths of Ventura and Marte, "great sportsmen who elevated our national flag."
Ventura definitely had a bright future ahead of him. After working his way through the Royals' minor league system in which he compiled a 3.48 earned run average and 464 total strikeouts between Class-A and Class-AAA, the Royals brought Ventura up to the big leagues in 2013.
“He was a great kid with a big heart. It's just a very hard day for all of us. We lost a brother,” said Royals outfielder Alex Gordon in an interview with MLB.com.
In 94 appearances afterwards (93 starts), Ventura had a record of 38-31 with a career ERA of 3.89 to go with 470 strikeouts in 547 2/3 innings pitched. Ventura was a member of the Royals 2014 squad that won the American League pennant, and the 2015 World Series championship team.
Even though his career was very brief, Ventura has already left a lasting impact. He gave it his all every time he took the hill for Kansas City. In 2016 alone Ventura averaged six innings and 80 pitches per start. He never gave up more than 10 hits in one game (twice), he held opponents to two runs or less on 13 occasions, and was a solid 3-0 -with three no-decisions- during the month of August (the Royals won all six games that he started that month).
His talent has been recognized from all corners of the sport.
“Today is a very sad day for our entire game and particularly for the many loyal fans in the Dominican Republic — Yordano was a key figure in the Royals' recent success. His electric talent on the mound helped lead the Royals to two American League pennants and the 2015 world championship,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.
While it won’t be the same without Ventura on the mound, his teammates believe this painful event will bring them closer for the upcoming 2017 season.
“You hate to say that tragedy brings us all together but I think it does. I think it will bring us closer,” said Royals pitcher Chris Young in an interview with the Royals website. "This group of guys is truly remarkable. We all truly care about each other," said Young. "We have a unique bond, and I think we're seeing that now as we mourn the loss of one of our brothers.”
It’s that brotherhood that will carry the Royals through 2017, it’s the memory of Ventura that will keep this team going, and it’s the legacy of Ventura that will inspire future generations of Dominican baseball players.