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A Cuban baseball player defected from the country’s national team Wednesday, according to the Cuban Baseball Federation.
César Prieto, a 22-year-old infielder, left the Cuban National Baseball Team while it was in Florida, participating in an Olympic qualifying tournament.
In a statement posted in Spanish to its website, the Federación Cubana de Béisbol confirmed Prieto’s decision.
“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.
“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.”
It is common for Cuban baseball players looking to make it to the majors to defect, due to the ongoing tense relations between the governments of the United States and Cuba.
Prieto led all Serie Nacional de Béisbol (Cuban National Series) players with a .403 batting average in the most recent season for Cienfuegos. He also hit seven home runs and 51 RBI in 74 games.