The Cuban Baseball Federation announced Wednesday that infielder César Prieto had defected from the team. According to a report by Lorenzo Reyes of USA Today, Prieto, 22, allegedly fled Cuba's national baseball team shortly after their arrival in Florida to take part in a qualifying tournament for the Tokyo Olympics. The team confirmed Prieto's defection in a statement.
"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," read a statement issued by the Federación Cubana de Béisbol.
Due to the ongoing tense relationship between the United States and Cuba, it has become common for Cuban players seeking to play in the Major Leagues to defect from their home country. Notable Cuban players to defect over the past decade include Yoenis Céspedes of the New York Mets, former Los Angeles Dodgers All-Star Yasiel Puig, and Chicago White Sox star José Abreu, while some of the most famous defectors include Orlando Hernández, Rolando Arrojo, and Danys Báez.
In addition to being a member of the National Team, Prieto also played for the Elefantes de Cienfuegos of the Cuban National Series. In his most recent season, Prieto led the entire league with a .403 batting average, hitting seven home runs and 51 RBI in 74 games.