Teen Cuban ballplayer defects

Nov. 15, 2010 at 1:04 PM
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MIAMI, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Teenage Cuban baseball star Yasiel Balaguer has defected to Nicaragua with an eye to making it to the U.S. major leagues, his agent said.

Balaguer left Cuba several days ago and is expected to initiate the process of becoming a free agent, an important step for Cubans who want to play in the big leagues.

The 17-year-old Balaguer, a center fielder, has played on Cuban teams in international tournaments. He was a starter for the Cuban club in the World Junior Baseball Championship in Ontario this past summer, El Nuevo Herald reported.

Balaguer is represented by Carlos Perez, president of Miami Sports, an agency that manages the careers of a number of other players from Cuba, the newspaper said.

"No doubt about it, this kid is a prospect that could make an impact on the best baseball in the world in a not-too-distant future. He has enough talent to make it. The most important thing is his youth," Perez said.

"The number of young players who decide to come and try out for the majors seems to keep growing by the day. They realize that the age-factor is of major importance."

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