Few details of the fatal crash have been released. Ventura was the lone person in his car when he crashed on the Juan Adrián highway in San Jose de Ocoa, Colonel Jacobo Mateo Moquete, director of communications for the police in the Dominican Republic, said on Twitter.
A photo posted by the police spokesman shows a truck on its side along a curved road:
“Our prayers right now are with Yordano’s family as we mourn this young man’s passing,” Royals General Manager Dayton Moore said in a statement. “He was so young and 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.”
Yordano Ventura, whose fastball reached over 100 miles per hour, joined the Royals organization as an amateur free agent in 2008, and made his MLB debut in 2013. He was a native of Samaná, Dominican Republic.
He signed a five-year contract extension with the Royals for $23 million in April 2015, the Kansas City Star reported.
Ventura said at the time the contract offered him the stability and flexibility to go back to the Dominican Republic to see his family and help them out, according to the Star.
“It has a lot to do with my family and the ability to get back and help out,” Ventura said during a press conference. “This is a situation that allows me to do that and now I want to continue to pitch well, stay health and be able to play well during the contract.”
In 2015, the Kansas City Star went to Ventura’s native Dominican Republic to speak to his mother and others who helped him escape poverty to reach the MLB. You can watch video from that below:
The Royals pitcher died on the same day another baseball player, former Cleveland Indians infielder Andy Marte, was killed in a car crash, also in the Dominican Republic, Sports Illustrated reports.
Marte, 33, played the past two seasons in Korea, according to SI.
His last game in the MLB came against the Royals in August 2014, with Ventura on the mound for Kansas City, Houston Astros announcer Robert Ford says.
Ventura is the second young star Major League Baseball pitcher to die over the past year. Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boat crash on September 25 during the final weeks of the season.
He was friends with another baseball player killed in his prime in a crash in the Dominican Republic, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, who died in October 2014.
Ventura paid tribute to Taveras during the 2014 World Series.
Ventura, a rookie at the time, pitched one of the best games of his career with Taveras’ name inscribed on his hat, leading the Royals to a 10-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants by allowing just three hits over seven shutout innings.
“If he was still here, I would for sure be talking to him, and Oscar would be very happy for me and very proud. Oscar was a very humble guy and very likeable, and I’m going to miss him a lot,” Ventura said after that game, according to Sports Illustrated. “From the minute that I found out about Oscar, I said this game was going to be dedicated to him.”
The hat from that game was sent to the Baseball Hall of Fame, according to Sports Illustrated. The Royals ended up losing the series to the Giants, but Ventura won a ring a year later, as the Royals beat the New York Mets in the 2015 World Series.
Authorities said Ventura’s body was taken to Santiago for an autopsy. The investigation into the crash is still ongoing.
Funeral plans and memorials for Ventura have not been finalized.