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Crazy Story Out Of The World Baseball Classic As Cuba's Bullpen Catcher Defected After The Team's Loss To The U.S. On Sunday

Mary DeCicco. Getty Images.

Local 10 news

MIAMI – The Center for a Free Cuba in Washington has confirmed Ivan Prieto, a bullpen catcher for Cuba’s national baseball team, defected following the World Baseball Classic in Miami on Sunday.

Video from La Familia Cubana shows Cuba’s national team at Miami International Airport as they prepared to return to Cuba and Prieto was not there.

Outspoken activist and critic of the Cuban government, Ramon Sanchez, spoke out about how it was likely no easy task for Prieto to separate himself from the team, management and staff who many believe have been closely watching each player for fear they may defect.

“Just before boarding the plane, he just vanished so we suspect he has defected. They tried. We learned that they had kept them in a bus for a couple of hours just before the game trying to contain them,” said Sanchez.

Pretty wild story coming out of the WBC with Cuba's bullpen catcher fleeing the team after their loss to Team USA in the semifinals on Sunday and defecting from his native country. 

The entire situation in Cuba is downright depressing and sad to read about. It's a life no one on this Earth deserves to be dealt. When given the small opportunity to defect, many take it. No matter what goes on in this country it's always going to feel like paradise and a fresh start for anyone in a place like Cuba. Many people have taken the giant risk and fled to safer ground over here including the likes of Aroldis Chapman, Jose Abreu, Randy Arozarena, Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Fernandez, and Yasiel Puig. 

The defection journeys can be incredibly dangerous and life-threatening. Take Jose Fernandez for example, who failed three escape attempts with his family at age 14 and was promptly locked up in a Cuban prison. On the fourth try they made it, but not without some issues…

A spotlight shone on the water, and Fernandez could make out his mother thrashing in the waves about 60 feet from the boat. She could swim, but just barely, and as Fernandez pushed his way toward her, he spat out salty water with almost every stroke. Waves—“stupid big,” he says—lifted him to the sky, then dropped him back down. When he reached his mother he told her, “Grab my back, but don’t push me down. Let’s go slow, and we’ll make it.” She held his left shoulder. With his right arm—his pitching arm—he paddled. Fifteen minutes later, they reached the boat. A rope dropped, and they climbed aboard. (source

Then there's Aroldis Chapman's story…

"It was pretty straightforward," he recalled. "I just walked out of the hotel, got in the car and left." (ESPN)

A regular ol' Michael Scoffield. 

Seriously though, these stories all come from people living in persecution who feel there's no other choice but to risk their lives in hopes of finding something better. I can't imagine how that feels. It sounds like Prieto's escape was fairly elaborate and thought out considering the team was being closely watched in the event this kind of thing happened. 

Kinda nuts to think about how important Cuba making it to the quarterfinals was for Prieto. If not it was most likely back to Cuba. Gotta imagine he cooked up a crazy motivationtional speech after their 0-2 start in group play. 

I don't foresee a bullpen catcher making a giant leap to the big leagues, but that doesn't mean this guy can't find a better life here. Here's to hoping for that and maybe his family making the trip a little further down the road as well.