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MLB draft round three: Dodgers take Cuban defector Garcia

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Some notes from round three of the MLB draft.

– Cuban defector Onelki Garcia, a 22-year-old left-handed pitcher, went to the Dodgers at No. 113 after his odd saga that had him ruled eligible and then ineligible for the 2011 draft. He’s reportedly requested a $7 million bonus, but it will be impossible for him to get anything close to that here. Of course, he doesn’t have a whole lot of leverage, not unless he wants to go pitch in Japan. It’s doubtful he’ll be any more attractive as a draft pick a year from now.

– The Blue Jays grabbed Anthony Alford, Baseball America’s No. 36 rated player, with the 112th pick. Expectations are that he’s going to play quarterback at Southern Miss, and since he won’t be in line for a big-time bonus at No. 112, that seems a likelier scenario than ever now. If the Jays do go above slot to sign him, they’d get a center fielder with big-time tools.

– The Red Sox dipped back into the Gator well, selecting Florida’s closer, Austin Maddox, this time around. They drafted his teammate, starting pitcher Brian Johnson, with the final pick of the first round. Maddox hit 17 homers as a freshman in 2010, but he was used primarily on the mound this season and had a 2.24 ERA and a 55/10 K/BB ratio in 52 1/3 innings. He figures to be used strictly as a reliever in the pros.

– Minnesota picked Adam Walker, whose father was a running back and returner for the 49ers in the mid-90s. Walker looks like a football player himself and offers about as much power potential as anyone in the draft. Making contact is an issue. Walker hit .343/.426/.581 with 12 homers for the University of Jacksonville this season, but he also fanned 47 times in 210 at-bats while facing modest competition.

– The Tigers announced their third-round pick, Austin Schotts, as a center fielder, rather than at his high school position of shortstop. Schotts possesses blinding speed, but he lacks the arm to play shortstop in the majors. Some thought he might also fit at second base, and given the Tigers’ needs, is kind of surprising that they don’t want to try him there. Of course, being a high school product, he’s four or five years off anyway.

Former MLB player Andy Marte also killed in car accident

GOODYEAR , AZ - MARCH 06:  Andy Marte #15 of the Cleveland Indians looks on from the dugout during the spring training game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Goodyear Ballpark on March 6, 2009 in Goodyear, Arizona. The Brewers defeated the Indians 17-7.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Compounding the tragic news of Yordano Ventura‘s passing is a report that fellow Dominican and former MLB infielder Andy Marte was also killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic early Sunday morning. The report was confirmed by Marte’s agency, J.M.G. Baseball, as well as Marte’s former MLB clubs. No further details have been released so far.

Marte, 33, appeared for the Braves, Indians and Diamondbacks from 2005 through 2014. He was ranked in the top 10 MLB prospects by MLB.com in 2005 and held a career .218/.276/.358 batting line, 21 home runs and a .634 OPS over seven seasons in the majors. He signed with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization after the 2014 season, slashing .312 with 42 home runs in 206 games.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Marte’s family and teammates during this terrible time.

Yordano Ventura and Jose Fernandez were two of the most promising arms in MLB

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 3: Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals throws a pitch in the first inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 3, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
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Baseball lost two incredible pitchers in the last four months, both to horrible and unforeseen tragedies. Jose Fernandez and Yordano Ventura were among the most talented and promising pitchers in MLB, two young arms that drew both accolades and criticism for their performance on the mound.

Ventura signed with the Royals in 2008, blazing through several tiers of their farm system before he was called up to replace an injured Danny Duffy in late 2013. He secured his rotation spot the following spring and finished a solid 2014 campaign with a 14-10 record, 3.20 ERA and 2.4 fWAR in 32 starts for the club. During the Royals’ World Series run later that year, Ventura dedicated his performance in Game 6 to Cardinals’ prospect Oscar Taveras, who was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic just two days earlier.

In four years with the Royals, Ventura pitched to a 38-31 record, 3.89 ERA and 6.5 fWAR. While his command and overall production rate waned, bottoming out in 2016 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.85 SO/BB rate, his dynamic pitch repertoire still kept him front and center in the Royals’ pitching staff. He brandished an electric fastball that, at its lowest point, hovered around 96.6 m.p.h. and, at its best, topped out around 102.6 m.p.h.

Like Ventura, Fernandez made an instant impression in the major league circuit. He earned Rookie of the Year distinctions in 2013 after delivering a 12-6 record, 2.19 ERA and 4.1 fWAR with the Marlins. Despite undergoing Tommy John surgery in his sophomore year, he recovered to take on a full workload in 2016 and stunned the league with a 16-8 record, 2.89 ERA, career-high 253 strikeouts and 6.1 fWAR.

Ventura developed a reputation for brushing back hitters, which escalated in some cases to volatile bench-clearing brawls. In 2015, he was ejected for three altercations in three consecutive games and served a seven-game suspension. Halfway through the 2016 season, he earned another eight-game suspension after plunking the Orioles’ Manny Machado in the back with a 99 m.p.h. heater. Some speculated that his aggressive behavior on the mound was excused — or, at least, made more palatable — by his talent and track record, while others called for a more heavy-handed approach from the league.

Fernandez, too, found himself at the center of speculation after reports emerged that painted the 24-year-old as a “clubhouse difficulty,” citing attitude problems that damaged relationships between the pitcher and Marlins players and staff. On the field, he was occasionally chastised for failing to adhere to some of baseball’s unwritten rules, most notably when he showed his elation after hitting his first career home run off of the Braves’ Mike Minor in 2013.

It’s impossible to predict where Fernandez and Ventura’s careers would have taken them. We mourn them not for their actions on the mound or their potential as star pitchers, however, but for their inherent value as people who were loved and respected by their families and teams. Major League Baseball will be worse off for their loss.