The latest Cuban national baseball player who defected shortly after arriving in South Florida could be the next star from the island nation to sign a pro contract in Major League Baseball.
The Cuban Baseball Federation confirmed Wednesday night that infielder César Prieto defected hours after the team arrived to take part in a qualifying tournament for the Tokyo Olympics.
“His decision, contrary to the commitment made to the people and the team, has generated disdain among his peers and other members of the delegation,” the federation said.
At 22 years old, Prieto has the potential for a long pro career – and his recent success on the diamond shows why some MLB teams may spend big money to get him in their organization.
The 5’8” Prieto signed with the Elefantes de Cienfuegos of the Cuban National Series as an 18-year-old in 2017, shortly after batting .581 for the Cuban national team.
Prieto has seen his stats climb to a peak last season where the left-handed batter had a .403 average with seven home runs and 51 RBIs - coming after he batted .438 during the most recent Pan-American Games.
While he could have signed with a MLB team while living in Cuba, the chances increase now that he has defected with some like ESPN sportswriter Enrique Rojas calling him “one of the best young players in his country today.”
It’s unknown when Prieto would be able to sign with a professional team in the MLB, but plenty of teams like the Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals and even the Miami Marlins could be in play for his talents.