Category Archives: Baseball Players Defections

Cuba says Dominican officer helped slave ballplayers defect

yulieskyfidel

Fox News Latino

Cuba’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic said a Dominican military man was involved in the defection of Cuban baseball stars Yulieski and Lourdes Gourriel during a tournament in this Caribbean nation.

The brothers, ages 31 and 22, respectively, on Sunday left the Cuban baseball team after it was eliminated in the Caribbean Series, which was won by Mexico.

In an interview published Thursday by Listin Diario newspaper, Cuban envoy Carlos De la Nuez Lopez said that a video exists in which Dominican air force officer William Solis can be seen arriving at the Cuban delegation’s hotel and making contact with the brothers, who then got into his vehicle and left for an unknown destination.

The video, De la Nuez Lopez said, was delivered to the Santo Domingo district attorney’s office.

“That is in the video. That is the complaint, that they left in the (official’s vehicle),” he said.

According to the ambassador, Solis on more than one occasion came to the hotel where the Cuban baseball team was staying.

A Dominican military source, who asked for anonymity, told EFE on Wednesday that the Defense Ministry and the National Investigations Department are investigating the officer’s alleged complicity.

The Gourriel brothers, according to media accounts, could now be in Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.

Yulieski Gourriel is considered one of the Cuban ball players with the most talent to play in the U.S. Major Leagues, while his brother Lourdes has been praised for his talent as well.

During the Feb. 1-7 Caribbean World Series, the heads of the Cuban delegation complained that their players were being besieged by several “individuals” with links to “stealing athletes.”

Two of Cuba’s top players reportedly defect to pursue MLB career

Fox Sports

Two of Cuba’s top baseball players are believed to have defected from Cuba to pursue a career in Major League Baseball.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr., 22, and Yulieski Gurriel, 31, who are brothers, defected from Cuba’s Ciego de Avila team following the Caribbean Series that concluded Sunday, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez — first reported by Miami’s El Nuevo Herald.

Lourdes is considered Cuba’s top prospect, while his brother Yulieski is considered the island nation’s top player. Both have repeatedly expressed a desire to legally leave the country with permission from the Cuban government with tensions easing between them and the United States.

Yulieski was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 1 player remaining in Cuba. As one of the nation’s most decorated players, he was an Olympian in 2004 and has represented Cuba in all three World Baseball Classic tournaments. He has been part of Cuban championship teams at the Pan American Games, Central American Games, World Baseball Championships, International Cup and Caribbean Series. He is considered major-league ready, and possibly could find a spot on a MLB roster this season. Playing mostly third base, he has been a career .333/.414/.577 hitter during his professional career.

Yulieski was recently allowed by the Cuban government to play in Nippon Professional Baseball batting .305/.349/.536 with 11 home runs in 62 games for the Yokohama Bay Stars.

Lourdes, the younger of the two brothers, could face more obstacles before finding himself on a major-league roster due to his age. Should he sign before his 23rd birthday, he would be subject to international bonus pools, limiting which teams could sign him. After Oct. 19, he would be free to sign with any club he chooses. During his short career thus far, Lourdes has batted .269/.355/.414 in 1036 Serie Nacional plate appearances. His numbers have steadily increased every year of his playing career.

The brothers come from a family of famous professional Cuban baseball players. Their oldest brother, Yunieski, 33, has won two MVP Awards in 16 seasons with Serie Nacional, and has spent the past two seasons playing for Quebec in the Canadian-American Association. The brothers’ father, Lourdes Gurriel Sr., played for the Cuban national team for 15 years, winning a gold medal, two batting titles and an MVP award. More recently, he was a national team manager.

While the MLB will eventually be getting two top talents in the majors with the players defecting, both players will need to establish residency in a new country then be declared a free agent by MLB before any clubs and officially attempt to sign them. There is no specific amount of time the process can take, as each case presents a difference situation.