Cuban infielder Cesar Prieto defected earlier this week shortly after arriving in Florida for an Olympic qualifying tournament.
The 22-year-old arrived Wednesday with the Cuban National Team to compete in next week’s Baseball Americas Qualifier in West Palm Beach and Port St. Lucie.
Prieto batted .403 with seven home runs and 51 RBIs in 74 games with Cienfuegos in his most recent season in the Cuban league.
The Cuban Baseball Federation confirmed Prieto’s decision to leave the team in a statement posted in Spanish to its website.
“His decision, which is contrary to the commitment he made with both his country and team, has generated repudiation among his colleagues and other members of the delegation, who are willing to overcome foreign interests to be faithful to our homeland and the mission with which we traveled to the tournament,” the statement reads, per USA Today.
“We feel it is worth pointing out that this type of encouraged behavior marks the many aggressions against our sport, which has been a victim of the interests of merchants and traffickers who have been given preference from the United States government to disable the agreement aimed at normalizing the addition of our players to MLB clubs.”
There were a total of 19 Cuban-born players on the Opening Day rosters in MLB this season.
–Field Level Media