Cuban Catcher Defects To U.S. After WBC Game

His team may have lost the battle to the United States in Sunday's World Baseball Classic game, but longtime Cuban baseball veteran Iván Prieto won the war, as he defected to the U.S. after the game. 

With that, Prieto becomes the first player ever to defect during the World Baseball Classic.  

Jorge Ebro of the Miami Herald is reporting that Prieto, who was acting as the bullpen catcher for the Cuban team, stayed behind in Miami, and "didn’t show up at Miami International Airport for the team’s flight to Havana". According to another reportupon arriving at the hotel Sunday night, Prieto walked out and got into a car with his relatives. 

The 26-year-old Prieto played eight seasons in Cuba, posting a career .291 average with a .773 OPS. Ironically, his country's elimination came at loanDepot Park in Little Havana, Miami. Prieto apparently decided that Little Havana was more to his liking than big Havana.

Photo: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports