Punto uses lessons from one-time prospect father

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Punto uses lessons from one-time prospect father

Nick Punto was 12 years old when his father sat him down for a talk. There was a lot Lou Punto needed to share with his son, and regardless of how young Nick was at the time, he wanted him to hear it then.

It was definitely traumatizing in a good way to hear these things about your father, Nick recalled with a smile.

Like many kids in southern California, Nick played Little League baseball and had developed a love for the game. Lou saw his sons passion and decided to share his past to help shape Nicks future.

Lou also loved baseball. Growing up in New York, he became a standout infielder and was a draft-and-follow with the Boston Red Sox in the 1960s. Lou chose to attend college, where he became involved in the rock and roll scene.

The prospect from the Bronx took on a new role as the lead singer in a rock band, embracing the music scene and lifestyle. He also stopped pursuing baseball.

The story of his fathers baseball career that never was struck a chord with Nick.

He was very influential for me because of what he went through and maybe the talent that he had and just didnt really maximize because of basically the 60s, he said. He passed that down for me and really created a good focus for me by seeing his mistakes. He kind of laid all that out on the table for me, it wasnt a secret. He told me all of his mistakes. I pretty much went on the straight path and was successful.

Nick embraced baseball and basketball in high school, using sports as an outlet during his parents divorce and the ups and downs of teenage years. He remembered his fathers story as he got drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies and worked to make his major league debut in 2001.

Nick, 34, is playing his first season for the same organization that expressed interest in his father over 50 years ago.

I think I was always trying to make him proud, he said. Thats pressure that I put upon myself, not anything that he did. Its just the competitiveness in me would want to make my father proud just because of how much I love and respect him.

Lou is still very involved in his career, watching games and offering his son advice and support. Nick points out that while his father never reached the majors, he knows his child better than any scout.

He knows a lot about baseball but this level is a little too advanced for him. But he definitely knows his son, he said. He knows when he sees me out there whats wrong emotionally. Not physical things like, 'This is what you should be doing,' hitting or fielding ground balls. Its more of like a confidence thing.

Nick is now the father of a two-and-a-half-year-old son. He plans to share his own stories as his son grows up. Thanks to his fathers life lessons, they will not include the same mistakes he was told.

The conversation was definitely advanced for a 12-year-old, he remembers. It was something more that you would tell an 18-year-old. It just happened to fall on the right ears.

Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte, a one-time top prospect in the Red Sox organization, was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. He was 33.

Marte was killed the same day that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Ventura was 25. Coincidentally, Ventura was the Royals starting pitcher in Marte's final major league game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014.

Marte, drafted by the Braves in 2000, was ranked the No. 9 prospect in baseball in 2005 when the third baseman was traded to the Red Sox as part of the deal that sent shortstop Edgar Renteria to Atlanta and Marte became the top-ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization.  

Marte was traded by the Red Sox to the Indians in 2006 in the deal that sent Coco Crisp to Boston and spent five seasons with Cleveland. His best season was 2009 (.232, six home runs, 25 RBI in 47 games). After a six-game stint with Arizona in 2014, he played in South Korea the past two years.  

Metropolitan traffic authorities in the Dominican told the Associated Press that Marte died when a car he was driving his a house along the highway between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.
 

Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning, according to multiple reports. Ventura was 25 years old.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo told the Associated Press that Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. He says it's not clear if Ventura was driving.

Ventura was killed the same day former major leaguer Andy Marte died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Coincidentally, Ventura was the starting pitcher in Marte's final MLB game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014. 

Ventura was 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA for the Royals' 2015 World Series champions and 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts in 2016. The right-hander made his major league debut in 2013 and in 2014 went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA for Kansas City's A.L. pennant winners. 

Ironically, Ventura paid tribute to his good friend and fellow Dominican, Oscar Tavares, who was also killed in a car crash in the D.R. in October 2014, by wearing Tavares' initials and R.I.P. on his cap before Ventura's start in Game 6 of the World Series in 2014. 

Ventura is the second current major league player to die in the past five months. Former Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in Miami on Sept. 25.