Orioles minor leaguer is third baseball player killed in Dominican Republic this year

A 21-year-old minor league pitcher in the Baltimore Orioles organization became the third baseball player to die this year in a car wreck in the Dominican Republic.

Miguel Gonzalez, who is not related to the former Orioles pitcher with the same name, succumbed Monday to injuries sustained Saturday night as he was returning home from visiting his girlfriend.

"Our organization is deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Miguel Gonzalez," Executive Vice President Dan Duquette said in a statement. "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."

Felipe Alou Jr., director of the Orioles’ academy, told ESPN the wreck occurred when Gonzalez’s car struck a truck that was out of control.

“The impact of the crash was on the driver side,” he said. “Miguel received serious injuries, including one in the head.”

Three people who were also in the car were uninjured.

On Monday, the Orioles held a moment of silence before a 10-8 loss to the Boston Red Sox.

Gonzalez’s death makes him the third player killed in a car crash this year on the Caribbean island.

In January, Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura and Cleveland Indians infielder Andy Martin were killed on the same day in unrelated crashes. In 2016, at least three other minor leaguers were killed in the Dominican Republic.

Oscar Tavares, a rising St. Louis Cardinals star, was killed in a car crash in 2014.

The World Health Organization ranked the Dominican Republic as the deadliest country in which to drive in the Western Hemisphere in 2015.

“The laws here are a lot more lax, in terms of speeding and drinking and driving,” Johnny DiPuglia, the Washington Nationals’ vice president of international players, told the Washington Post last year. “The culture down here is more accepting of that lifestyle. If you get a DUI in the states, it can ruin your life…. But [in the Dominican Republic], you don’t see that. DUI checkpoints — you don’t see that.”

Gonzalez, an undrafted free agent, spent the last three seasons in the Dominican Summer League, appearing in 38 games (13 starts) and posting a 7.65 ERA.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.