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Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura dies in car crash

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Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has died as a result of a car crash in the Dominican Republic. He was 25.

Dominican national police identified Ventura as the victim Sunday morning. Ventura’s agency confirmed his death to MLB.com.

Reports from the Dominican Republic said the crash happened on a highway in Rancho Arriba, a town in the province of San Jose de Ocoa.

Ventura's hometown is Las Terrenas, where the funeral services are expected to take place.

It was the first death of an active player in Royals franchise history.

Ventura was the only person in the car at the time. He was reportedly not wearing a seat belt.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

The Royals released a statement Sunday morning.

The Kansas City Royals regretfully announce the passing of Yordano Ventura, who perished in a car accident last night in the Dominican Republic. There are no details available at this time regarding the accident that claimed the life of the 25-year old Ventura.

“Our prayers right now are with Yordano’s family as we mourn this young man’s passing,” said Dayton Moore, Royals’ Senior VP of Baseball Operations and General Manager. “He was so young and so 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.”

Ventura spent his entire professional career in the Royals’ organization after signing as a non-drafted free agent in 2008 and debuting for the club on September 17, 2013.  He pitched in two World Series (2014, 2015) with Kansas City, helping the franchise win their second World Series championship in 2015.  He held a 38-31 career record in 94 games and 93 starts at the Major League level, while he also made nine postseason starts before the age of 25.

Royals General Manager Dayton Moore spoke to the media Sunday afternoon.

"Our prayers right now are with Yordano's family as we mourn this young man's passing," said Royals general manager Dayton Moore. "He was so young and so 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."

Flags outside Kauffman Stadium were lowered and fans began a memorial, leaving flowers, notes, and other tributes outside the gate.

Fellow Royals and baseball lovers around the country extended their thoughts and condolences.

ACE I love you my brother. I'm in disbelief and don't know what to say. I love you ACE 🙏🏽

A post shared by Eric Hosmer (@hosmer305) on

Christian Colón posted a heartfelt message on Twitter saying, "How can I even begin to explain how much I cared about you? You were like a little brother to me. You were a tough one to deal with but with your love and smile you could always make everything ok. We would have long conversations about life, about how much we wanted to be great in all aspects of life. I knew the struggle you had to overcome to get to where you were and I could always see it in your eyes that you wanted more. I knew your secrets and I knew your strengths. I knew anytime you needed a teammate to help you with something, that teammate would be me. I'm so happy to be able to say I knew you. I'm gonna miss you more than you know. I know at times you were tough but I knew u were just misunderstood. Love you bro and you will forever have a special place in my heart."

Ventura, born in the Dominican Republic, made his MLB debut on Sept. 17, 2013 against the Indians. He tallied 39 career wins (including playoffs), and had the most innings pitched for the Royals since 2013.

Former major league player Andy Marte, 33, also died Sunday in a separate wreck in the Dominican Republic, MLB.com reported.

Marte, also a Dominican Republic native, was an infielder and had played with the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks before playing two seasons in South Korea.