Twins mourn death of Minor Leaguer Landa

Twins mourn death of Minor Leaguer Landa

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins received tragic news out of Venezuela early Saturday morning, as Minor League pitcher Yorman Landa died in a car accident outside of Caracas. He was 22.

Landa, who had been with the organization since signing as a 16-year-old in 2010 and was a two-time Minor League All-Star, had just agreed to re-sign a Minor League deal with the Twins this week after being taken off the 40-man roster on Dec. 2.

Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey released the following statement on behalf of the organization.

"The Minnesota Twins are deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss of Yorman Landa early this morning in Venezuela," the statement read. "On behalf of the entire baseball community, we send our sincerest condolences to the Landa family as well as Yorman's many friends, coaches and teammates."

His agent, Daniel Szew, said Landa was in the passenger seat of a car with his father driving in heavy rain with minimal lighting when a tree fell and struck Landa in the head. Landa was the only passenger among the four or five in the vehicle to suffer major injuries, and it took a long time before an ambulance arrived.

"Yorman was one of my favorite clients, and he quickly became one of the most humble and nicest players I've ever had the privilege to represent," Szew said. "As a player, he was destined to make the Majors. He had a Major League arm. He just had some bad luck the last couple seasons with injuries. As a human being, he was amazing. A really nice kid, very down to earth and always even-keeled."

Landa's former teammates, including Tyler Jay, Ryan O'Rourke and Trevor Hildenberger, took to Twitter to express their grief and send condolences to his family. Landa was especially close with fellow Twins prospects Engelb Vielma and Felix Jorge, whom he helped recruit to Szew's agency. Jake Mauer, his manager at Class A Cedar Rapids from 2014-15, said he was one of the more well-liked players on the team because of his personality.

"He was a real good teammate," Mauer said. "He wasn't real loud or too outgoing but he always seemed to have a funny comment at the right time. He was still learning and understanding English, so communicating with some of his teammates wasn't always the easiest thing for him, but he was trying."

Landa, a hard-throwing right-hander whose fastball could reach 100 mph, posted a 3.24 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings with Class A Advanced Fort Myers in 2016. He missed the second half of the season with shoulder issues and was removed from the 40-man roster before the non-tender deadline. He was originally added to the 40-man roster after the 2015 season, which was a strong year for Landa after he overcame a torn labrum in 2014. He was ranked as high as Minnesota's No. 20 prospect on MLBPipeline.com.

Landa, a native of Santa Teresa del Tuy, Venezuela, had a 2.66 ERA in 100 career appearances in the Minors. He drew interest from several teams after becoming a free agent this offseason before re-signing with the Twins ahead of the Rule 5 Draft. By all accounts, he was healthy and looking forward to the 2016 season.

"It sounded like the rehab was going well," Mauer said. "He was looking to be on track for this year. It's real sad."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.