Orioles minor league pitcher Miguel Elias Gonzalez died from injuries sustained in a car accident in the Dominican Republic on Saturday, the team announced on Monday. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said in a statement, “Our organization is deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Miguel Gonzalez. Miguel was beloved by his teammates and coaches in the Dominican Republic. Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this very difficult time.”
The Orioles signed Gonzalez, 21, out of the D.R. on September 28, 2014. He pitched parts of three seasons in the Dominican Summer League, making 13 starts and 25 relief appearances.
Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte were killed in separate car accidents in the Dominican Republic earlier this year, and Oscar Taveras was killed in a car accident in the D.R. in October 2014. Three minor leaguers also died in 2016 in similar fashion. The dangers of driving in the D.R. are well known now and teams now speak to their players about the issue. For instance, back in January, Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post reported that the Nationals had vice president of international players Johnny DiPuglia tell his players at the club’s academy in Boca Chica, D.R., “You drink and drive and there’s a very good chance you’re going to have a grave issue on your hands.” In 2015, the World Health Organization rated the Dominican Republic as the deadliest country in which to drive in the western hemisphere due to lax enforcement of driving laws.
On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.
After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.
Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.
The full statement:
Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.
We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.
We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.
Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.