Longtime minor league pitcher Matt Pobereyko, who had recently become a top hurler in Mexico, died suddenly near Chicago, officials and shocked loved ones said Monday.
He was 31.
Pobereyko was in his apartment, in a west Chicago-area suburb when he collapsed Friday and was later discovered by his girlfriend, the pitcher’s brother, Daniel Pobereyko, said Monday.
“He just dropped and that’s all we know,” the grieving brother said. “We don’t know. There’s nothing outstanding on the autopsy. But from what I understand, he would have gotten a clean bill of health if he had a pulse.”
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound player was found “unresponsive on his kitchen floor” and “pronounced dead on the scene,” according to a statement by Warrenville Police Chief Sam Bonilla.
“There were no suspicious circumstances to report, and an autopsy conducted the following day did not reveal anything further,” Bonilla added.
A cause of death is “pending further investigation,” a spokesman for the DuPage County Coroner’s Office said. It’ll likely take another 7 1/2 weeks for a formal cause to be determined, the spokesman added.
The pitcher’s death came as a shock to loved ones, Daniel Pobereyko said. Pobereyko’s parents visited him earlier in the week and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
“For what we know now, there’s really no leads,” Daniel Pobereyko said. “They saw him earlier in the week, and he seemed to be perfectly fine.”
Pobereyko played two winter seasons, 2021-22 and 2022-23, for Algodoneros de Guasave and the team placed a wreath on the pitcher’s mound at Kuroda Park in Guasave and wrote the number 56 in chalk.
The memorial included a handwritten message: “Thanks for giving so much joy.”
Pobereyko’s teammates and coaches are suffering “profound sadness,” Algodoneros de Guasave spokesman Ruben Benitez said.
“He was a great teammate, he got along very well with everyone,” said Benitez.
“Never (any health issues), he was always a very healthy man.”
The Hammond, Indiana, native played for Kentucky Wesleyan before embarking on a minor league career that included stops with the New York Mets, Arizona Diamondbacks and Miami Marlins organizations.
He made it as high as the Mets triple-A team in Las Vegas in 2018.
In recent years, most of Pobereyko’s work had come in independent and Mexican leagues.
“He was an incredible teammate and fierce competitor, but an even nicer person,” according to a statement by the Saint Paul Saints, where Pobereyko pitched in 2020. “He will be missed by all that knew him. We send our love to his family and friends.
This winter, Pobereyko pitched for Algodoneros de Guasave and led the league with strikeouts, fanning 73 batters in 70 1/3 innings.
His last competitive game this month was pitching for Mexico in the Caribbean World Series in Venezuela.
Even at the baseball-advanced age of 31, Pobereyko had dreams of playing at higher levels, perhaps in Asia if he couldn’t make it back to the big leagues.
“He had his eyes on the Asian markets because he had thrown really well in Mexico,” Daniel Pobereyko said. “So he was hoping for that at the very least. He still had really good stuff, and he was going to pitch as long as he did.”
Sandra Lilley , Polly DeFrank and Albinson Linares contributed.