Pitching prospect Fausto Segura dies in motorcycle accident

Nationals minor league reliever Fausto Segura died Sunday night in his native Dominican Republic, the club announced today.

Segura, 23, was riding a motorcycle near Maria Montez International Airport in his hometown of Barahona when he was hit by a van, ESPN Deportes reported.

"He was beloved by his teammates, coaches, coordinators and everyone he came in contact with throughout our organization," the Nationals said in a statement announcing Segura's death. "We extend our deepest sympathies to Fausto's family, friends and loved ones in their time of grief."

Nationals-bag-bat-dugout-sidebar.jpgSigned by the Nationals in July 2017 as a 19-year-old, Segura was making his way up through the organization's farm system, from the Dominican Summer League in 2017 to the rookie Gulf Coast League in 2018 to short-season Single-A Auburn last season, when he posted a 3.21 ERA, three saves and 33 strikeouts in 17 relief appearances.

"He was starting to take off, which was good to see," assistant general manager of international operations Johnny DiPuglia said. "We were excited about him. But the thing we were most excited about him was how his maturation had improved. So that's the sad thing. The kid was starting to figure some things out, and then this happens."

Segura wound up 4-6 with a 3.88 ERA in 32 games as a professional, three of them starts.

DiPuglia described the 6-foot-3 right-hander as "a large figure who had some rough edges" when the Nationals first signed him. Over the last three years, the right-hander had developed both as a pitcher (he built his fastball up to 98 mph) and as a person (coaches noted how he now smiled all the time). He especially enjoyed playing last season in the New York-Penn League, with larger crowds and bigger ballparks than the sparse gatherings that watch Rookie-level games in Florida.

"A lot of reason behind our success is due to the way we care about these kids," DiPuglia said. "They become family, and they know that we're on their side. So when you do lose one of them like this, it hurts like you're losing one of your kids. That's how close you get to them. You talk to people who worked with him at different levels, and they all say the same thing: He was a kid that had come a long way, and he had a bright future."

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