Cuban baseball player Ivan Prieto Gonzalez defected from his home country after he didn't board the team's flight back to Havana on Monday following Cuba's elimination in the World Baseball Classic, according to Jorge Ebro of the Miami Herald. The United States defeated Cuba 14-2 in the World Baseball Classic semifinals in Miami on Sunday night.
Gonzalez served as a bullpen catcher for Cuba during the tournament, which began earlier this month, after he was chosen by the Cuban Baseball Federation.
According to Ebro, the Cuban team was scheduled to depart Miami International Airport on Monday. However, when the flight took off, Gonzalez wasn't on it and stayed in Miami following Sunday's game.
Gonzalez, 26, has played eight seasons for Sabuesos de Holguín and Alazanes de Granma in the Cuban National Series. During that time, he has hit .291 with 13 home runs and 102 RBIs in 257 career games in his home country.
Over the years, several baseball players have defected from Cuba in order to pursue a professional career in Major League Baseball. In October 2021, 11 players defected during the U23 Baseball World Cup that took place in Mexico.