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Royals pitcher Ventura killed in car crash

(Reuters) - Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic, the Major League Baseball team said on Sunday.

"It is with a heavy and broken heart that we confirm the passing of Yordano Ventura," said Royals vice president of communications and broadcasting Mike Swanson on the team website (www.kansascity.royals.mlb.com).

Ventura, one of the hardest-throwing starting pitchers in the majors, was 25.

In a separate incident on Sunday, former Major League third baseman Andy Marte, once one of the best prospects in baseball, was also killed in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic. He was 33.

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“Today is a very sad day for our entire game and particularly for the many loyal fans in the Dominican Republic, the home of both Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.

“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.

"Andy was a respected member of six organizations who played seven Major League seasons, including for the Cleveland Indians from 2006-2010."

Ventura had spent his entire major league career in Kansas City, helping the Royals to a World Series title in 2015 and posting a 13-8 record.

The right-hander, who signed with Kansas City as an amateur free agent in 2008, established himself as a future ace by going 14-10 in his rookie season and finishing sixth in the 2014 American League Rookie of the Year Award voting.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto and Larry Fine in Foxborough, Mass.; Editing by Clare Fallon and Andrew Both)