Twins minor leaguer loses battle with cancer

MINNEAPOLIS Minnesota minor league pitcher Paul Bargas passed away Tuesday night after battling a rare form of brain cancer. He was 23.

“He was an unbelievable person,” Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. “There was never a ‘why me?’ in him. There was never any of that stuff. He was very religious and just put it in God’s hands.”

The Twins acquired Bargas, a left-handed pitcher, from the Colorado Rockies in December 2010 in a trade for catcher Jose Morales. Bargas never pitched after joining Minnesota’s minor league system, however, after it was discovered that he had brain cancer.

Antony said Bargas first became ill during the honeymoon with his wife, Victoria. Not long after, he reported to the Twins’ spring training facility in Fort Myers, Fla. But a few days into spring training, Bargas again didn’t feel well. He was hospitalized and eventually diagnosed with brain cancer, then spent most of his time receiving treatment at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.

During a trip to Anaheim last season, several Twins players and manager Ron Gardenhire visited Bargas, signing autographs and talking baseball with him.

“He was in awe of that, that everybody took so much time out and took time to come over and say hello when they really didn’t know him,” Antony said. “They just knew he was part of our organization, what had happened to him and what was going on with him. He was very, very appreciative.”

In two seasons in Colorado’s minor league system, Bargas was a combined 8-5 with a 3.12 ERA in 77 games, ascending as high as Class-A Asheville in 2010.

Despite the fact Bargas never pitched for the Twins, Antony said Bargas was appreciative of the support the team gave him during his battle with cancer.

“The thing that he talked about the most was he said, ‘I’m amazed you guys traded for me and I never played a game for you guys and you treat me like family,’ ” Antony said. “I said, ‘You are. You’re one of us the minute we draft you or trade for you.’ …

“You realize how you take all this for granted. He’s going through all that and he’s not complaining a bit or anything. It’s not fair when bad things happen to good people, and he was definitely a good person.”

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