On Sunday morning, Royals right-handed pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car crash in the Dominican Republic at the age of 25. The MLB has suffered several tragic losses recently. Most notably, Jose Fernandez and also on Sunday mourned the loss of former Major League infielder Andy Marte.
Ventura's untimely death draws extreme similarities to the death of Jose Fernandez. Yordano Ventura was a huge fan favorite in Kansas City as the fans enjoyed watching his electric stuff on the mound as well as his fiery personality. He quickly adopted the nickname "Ace." Ace never shied away from throwing the ball inside to batters as he would never let them take away the inside part of the zone. Several times he would throw inside and deal with an angry batter and even a few times a brawl because of it.
Shortly after news broke of his death, Royals fans made their way to Kauffman Stadium to offer their condolences. They left flowers, hats and other objects to honor Ventura. All flags were lowered to half staff as the Royals mourned the loss of Ventura.
A little later in the day, fans were met by Danny Duffy and Christian colon. The two players were accepting condolences on behalf of the Royals organization and for their friend, Yordano Ventura.
Not only was Ventura a fan favorite, but he was loved within the Royals organization. He was a favorite of GM Dayton Moore who spoke a little about the death of his pitcher. "Obviously our prayers go out to Yordano's family, all his friends, his teammates, our fans and everybody throughout the baseball community. Everybody with our team and our organization is hurting deeply. This is certainly something that puts everything into strong perspective. It's a reminder that nobody is guaranteed tomorrow,” Moore went on to say, "We loved Yordano. We loved his heart and who he was as a teammate and a friend. He's somebody that challenged us all and made us better. We're going to miss him.''
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred also issued a statement on behalf of Major League Baseball, “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.”
Ventura finished his young career going 38-31 while pitching to the tune of a 3.89 ERA. He also punched out 470 batters in his four years in the big leagues.
It's tough to imagine where the Royals go from here. Similarly to what we saw with the Marlins after Jose Fernandez passed, the Royals will have to add depth and try to move on the best they can. There are a few free agent pitchers left on the market however the market was already very thin to begin with and we are now towards the end of January. The Royals could make a run for Jason Hammel or take a flier on a CJ Wilson type pitcher. They could also allow someone to fill in from their system. Danny Duffy will likely step in as the ace after signing an extension with the Royals.
Every player on that roster lost a friend whom they called their brother. Ned Yost lost a fiery spirit who had electrifying stuff and took the ball every five days. Dayton Moore lost one of his favorite players in the organization. The fans lost a player who personified the Royals values and someone who went out and competed day in and day out because of his love for the team, city and most importantly the fans. Most importantly deepest condolences to his family.
Rest easy, Ace.