Each year, the Royals have their minor-league players visit the team’s academy in the Dominican Republic.
General manager Dayton Moore told The Star’s Vahe Gregorian last year that he hopes the trip allows American-born players to appreciate where many of their teammates come from.
“It’s important to get out of your comfort zone in anything you do, and it’s important to understand where many of your teammates come from, some of the challenges that they have,” Moore said. “And let me say this: Everybody has challenges in this game, whether you grow up in the (United States) or not. But I think it just helps you become a better teammate, and ultimately that’s what you need to be.”
The Royals minor-league players made that visit again last week, and this time they paid visit to Yordano Ventura’s hometown. Ventura, who died a year ago Monday, was buried Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic.
Alec Zumwalt, the Royals’ Director of Baseball Operations, tweeted a photo of the visit to his grave. He wrote: “No words to describe this moment.”
The visit also included a trip to the baseball field where Ventura played as a kid. Zumwalt wrote: “Some days are more humbling than others but the key is to be humble.”
Minor-league catcher M.J. Melendez, who is from Florida, wrote: “So grateful to be a part of a @Royals group that got to shed light and continue Yordano Ventura’s dream of giving back to his hometown! God is so good! #BeTheLight”
Nick Pratto, who was the Royals’ first-round pick in last year’s draft, wrote: “Blown away by the hospitality of the people in Yordano Ventura’s hometown as we helped the kids play, saw the beach and visited his grave”
Sam LeBeau, whose Twitter account says he customizes baseball trips to the Caribbean for college and travel teams, shared photos of the Royals visit.