Two More Cuban Baseball Stars Escape Island-Prison for Greener Pastures in MLB

After defecting to the U.S., Cuban baseball star Yulieski Gurriel and his younger brother Lourdes report that they intend to sign with Major League Baseball clubs, preferably the same one.

The brothers defected from Cuba after a February 7 Caribbean Series game held in the Dominican Republic and immediately disappeared from public view in the week following. But now they both re-emerged with an interview with MLB.com.

While the pair wouldn’t reveal where they are training, they wanted fans to know they are in a serious bid to fulfill their Major League Baseball dreams.

“We want the fans to know we are fine and working toward our dream,” Yulieski said in Spanish during the interview. “I know there are a lot of people who worried about us, but we are working hard and training every day to accomplish our dreams to play in the Major Leagues.”

Infielder Yulieski, who in 2015 was ranked by Baseball America as the best player in Cuba, was an Olympian from his homeland in 2004 from and played in all three World Baseball Classic tournaments. He has been a key player for the island nation at the Pan American Games, Central American Games, World Baseball Championships, International Cup and the Caribbean Series.

Over the last 15 seasons, Yulieski, a third baseman, has hit .333 with 245 home runs and 999 RBI in the Cuban and Nippon leagues.

His brother, shortstop Lourdes, Jr., is also an accomplished player. As MLB.com notes, when he defected Lourdes “was hitting .321 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs and a .924 OPS in 43 games for the Havana Industriales this season.” He has played on the national team for six years.

This isn’t the first hint that Yulieski had his eye on America’s Major Leagues. In 2015 the Cuban star told Yahoo! that playing in America is “the dream of all players to play at the maximum level baseball in all the world.”

Yulieski, 31, and Lourdes, 22, said they’d love to play on the same team but it isn’t a deal killer. “We would like to play together on the same team, have my brother near me,” Yulieski said. “But if the circumstances don’t permit it and we have to go different paths, that’s what we will do.”

The brothers come from rich Cuban baseball stock. Their father, Lourdes, Sr., was a long-time player and manager of the Cuban team and their older brother, Yunieski, played in the nation’s Cuba’s Serie Nacional for 16 years. The pair also have other, distant family members who have figured prominently in Cuban baseball.

Ultimately, the brothers just want to take a grab at the brass ring. “Our dream is to play in big leagues and it’s been our desire for a long time,” Yulieski said. “The world knew it. Now, we are taking these steps down the path to get there.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com


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