Nationals prospect, 18, dies of meningitis in DR

Washington Nationals prospect Yewri Guillen was laid to rest Saturday while the team tried to figure out how the 18-year-old shortstop contracted the bacterial meningitis that killed him.

Guillen was buried in a Nigua cemetery near the small home he shared with his father and two sisters. The Lerners, owners of the Nationals, said they would pay for the funeral and Nationals players donated money to help Guillen's family.

"I lost my hope," Carlos Noel Guillen, the prospect's father, told The Associated Press. "Even though I have two daughters, Yewri was everything to this family."

Guillen died Thursday, after first showing symptoms of the disease Monday, according to Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, the Nationals' medical director. He said the team is trying to determine how he came down with the disease.

"There are bacterial particles that float around, and sometimes somebody is susceptible and you don't know," Douoguih told the team's website. "When they contract, it's very rapid. We all carry bacteria in noses and mouths. It's possible he got it from somebody who sneezed. He was susceptible, and it was an unfortunate thing."

Carlos Noel Guillen told the AP his son complained of strong headaches last Monday and Tuesday while he was at the Nationals' academy in Boca Chica. According to the father, the team sent him home to rest on Wednesday and it wasn't until after that he began to receive medical treatment.

"We took him to a doctor on Wednesday and Thursday in San Cristobal to treat him for the headaches," Guillen said. "Things got worse on Friday and we went to Santo Domingo, but the (private clinic) wouldn't help us because we didn't have medical insurance or 50,000 pesos ($1,300) to leave as a deposit. From there we went to another center where Yewri remained hospitalized for seven days until he died."

After the prospect was hospitalized, Nationals executives in the country paid for his medical bills, Guillen said.

Douoguih said Guillen received treatment for the condition after the academy's medical and training staff identified it as bacterial meningitis.

"Unfortunately, even with the best treatment, the mortality rate is about 20 to 30 percent. So it's a very terrible thing," Douoguih said.

"As unfortunate as it is, I know everything was done to the letter by our medical and training staff to prevent any further catastrophe."

Douoguih said other players at the academy are not at risk and that the Nationals are assessing what they can do to prevent such a tragedy in the future.

"Everyone that came in contact with him received standard prophylaxis to prevent this from spreading and becoming more of a problem," he said.

Local team representative Moises de la Mota did not return calls for comment.