Ivan Prieto of Cuba celebrates a home run in the fourth inning during the third place game between Cuba and Colombia as part of the WBSC U-23 Baseball World Cup at Sonora Stadium on October 2, 2021 in Hermosillo, Mexico. The catcher has since defected from Cuba and signed with Campeche in the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol. (Photo by Luis Gutierrez/Norte Photo/Getty Images)
By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
Ivan Prieto, the catcher who left the Cuban team at the World Baseball Classic in Miami immediately following their 14-2 loss to Team USA, has found a new place to play.
Prieto has signed with the Piratas de Campeche, who play in the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol, for the 2023 season. The signing was first reported by Yussef Diaz of Pelota Cubana, a website that covers Cuban baseball from the United States.
Prieto, 26, played eight seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional with Holguin and Granma, batting .297/.389/.403 in 257 career games. He played for Agricultores in the inaugural season of Cuba’s Elite League over the winter, contributing to the team’s championship. He was the first player to defect from the Communist country during a World Baseball Classic.
The details of Prieto’s escape from the Cuban team following the loss to the United States on March 19 remain unclear.
By playing in Mexico, Prieto is following a similar path to fellow Cuban defector Randy Arozarena, who played for Tijuana in the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol in 2017 and for Navajoa the following winter season before signing with Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals. Arozarena is now in his fifth MLB season and starred for Mexico during the World Baseball Classic.
The Liga Mexicana de Beisbol season begins April 21 with a full slate of games. The Piratas de Campeche open the season on the road with a three-game set at the Pericos de Puebla.