The Tragic End of Three 2012 Futures
On July 8th 2012, the future stars of Major League Baseball descended upon Kaufmann stadium in Kansas City. Both rosters were packed full of big names, bright futures, and dreams of changing some team's fortunes. The USA roster included the likes of Gerrit Cole (Pirates), Nolan Arenado (Rockies), Manny Machado (Orioles), Kolten Wong (Cardinals), Wil Myers (Royals); among many other hopeful names. The World roster consisted of Oscar Taveras (Cardinals), Yordano Ventura (Royals), Jose Fernandez (Marlins), Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox), Francisco Lindor (Indians); just to name a few. The final score was 17-5 in favor of the USA however the score was as relevant as the storyline of a Jason Statham movie. The main takeaway of the game was the future of the MLB was extremely bright. Three of those futures were ended much to soon in three different accidents.
Oscar Taveras was killed at the age of 22 in a car accident in his home country of the Dominican Republic. This accident also took the life of his girlfriend, Edilia Arvelo. Taveras' blood alcohol content was five times the legal limit at the time of the accident. Jose Fernandez was killed at the age of 24 in a boating accident in Florida along with two of his friends. Fernandez was legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system at the time of the accident. This past week another tragedy struck in the Dominican; Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident at the age of 25.
In the short time these three played in the Futures Game, you could tell all three had star potential. Yordano was the starting pitcher for the World Team in what would become his home stadium in Kansas City. He only pitched one inning but it was a clean inning; he then gave way for Fernandez to pitch. Jose also only had one inning but got two of his three outs by way of the strikeout; which would become a major part in his short pitching career.
After the Futures Game all three players eventually made it up to the big leagues; Jose and Yordano in 2013, and Oscar in 2014. When Oscar was called up he was the second ranked prospect in baseball. He played in 80 games for the Cardinals with three homeruns and a .239 average; the numbers seem pedestrian but there were many flashes of his brilliance. In his first game Oscar hit a towering home run against the San Francisco Giants. In one of his final at bats, Taveras hit a game tying home run in the 7th inning of Game Two of the NLCS, once again against the Giants. When Jose Fernandez was brought up to the big leagues he immediately dominated batters and made it look easy while doing it. He was the 2013 Rookie of the Year and made two All-Star Game appearances in his young career. He was 38-17 in his career with a 2.58 ERA and that came with two seasons where he made a combined 19 appearances. He was always smiling, loved the game, and never let a moment pass him by. Yordano Ventura only made 3 appearances in 2013, however he started leaving his mark on the league in 2014. He was a starter for the Royals in 2014 and brought his fiery personality every time he took the mound. His career numbers were 38-31 with a 3.89 ERA but he will be remembered for a few other moments. In only his second start he threw one of the hardest pitches every recorded for a starting pitcher when he struck out David Freese with a 102.9 mph fastball. He was the winning pitcher in Game 6 of the 2014 World Series while honoring Taveras on his hat and cleats. While the Royals would lose that World Series they would get another chance in 2015 and Yordano would become a World Champ.
All three of these young players had extremely bright futures and their lives were tragically cut short. When something like this happens with athletes or Hollywood stars it brings awareness around to these issues for a little while. However these tragic moments should remind all of us just how fragile life is and that these accidents occur everyday. It should make us take a step back and be sure everyone is reminded how important life is and that nothing is guaranteed. These three young men have also shown us to love what you do and to live your life to the fullest. All three of them showed an inspiring love for the game and for life. R.I.P Oscar, Jose, and Yordano; thank you for sharing your passion with us.