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Cuban catcher seeking U.S. asylum after World Baseball Classic, say reports

One of the catchers of the Cuban team that participated in the V World Baseball Classic, Iván Prieto, stayed in Miami

March 21, 2023 9:14am

Updated: March 21, 2023 9:14am

Iván Prieto, one of the catchers of the Cuban team that participated in this year's World Baseball Classic, stayed behind in Miami and did not return to the island where a group of high-ranking leaders of the regime received the team, say reports. 

"Team Cuba's bullpen catcher, Iván Prieto, left the team before returning to Cuba this morning," wrote Francys Romero, a reporter accredited to cover the WBC on social media networks.

Prieto "was picked up by a relative at the hotel where [the team from] Cuba was staying hours before leaving for the island," the journalist wrote. 

Sports journalist Henry Morales also citds a source close to the event who revealed "that the catcher, upon arriving at the hotel, took his things from the room and left with his close relatives in a car through the front door (... ) taking advantage of the fact that the team had freedom of movement."

The bullpen catcher is a member of the baseball team, usually a former professional player, who catches the ball for relief pitchers warming up before entering a game and starting pitchers before games.

Iván Prieto however, was an active player with the Alazanes of Granma team in the Cuban National Baseball Series.

Prieto has been described  as "talented" by the sports website Swing Completo for his performance in the main Cuban league. He participated as a regular member of the national team in other recent international competitions.

“With experience in seven National Series, Prieto left a batting average of .287 in Cuban baseball. He had 36 doubles, one triple and 17 home runs. In addition, he drove in 129 runs and scored 118. His offensive line was .376 / .390 / .766,” Complete Swing posted.

"Even not being on the official roster [in the WBC], Prieto is the first player to leave a Cuban team in a World Baseball Classic," said Francys Romero.

Japanese photographer Yuhki Ohboshi, who accompanied Team Cuba during their participation in the WBC, also mentioned the leak.


"Iván Prieto, who was with the [team] as a bullpen catcher, is staying in Miami without returning home," Ohboshi confirmed.

Cuban sports authorities had not confirmed the Iván Prieto had defected.

JIT, the official media outlet of the Cuban National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (Inder), reported this Monday morning that the members of the team who reside in Cuba were received at Havana airport by the regime's current president, Miguel Díaz-Canel.

"You are heroes of Cuban baseball," Díaz-Canel said in his welcoming words, JIT reported without referencing Prieto's purported escape.

The United States defeated Cuba on Sunday night at LoanDepot Park in Miami by a lopsided score of 14-2 in the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic.

The match was also marked by the protests against the Havana regime carried out by Cubans in the stands and outside the stadium, as well as by three exiles who took to the field separately to demand "freedom" for political prisoners and the Cuban people.