Cuban baseball player arrives in Iowa for exhibition series, promptly defects

Principal Park
The Cuban national team plays tonight (live stream) at Des Moine’s Principal Park, home of the Iowa Cubs — photo by Justin Brockie

The Cuban national baseball team arrived in Des Moines Tuesday in preparation for the first US-based extended series between the two countries since 1996. The exhibition — which begins tonight — pits the Cuban national team against American college stars in a five-game series that spans three U.S. cities.

Missing from tonight’s roster, however, is Cuban pitcher Misael Silverio. Shortly after arriving in Des Moines on Tuesday, the 24-year-old lefty — who is reportedly having one of the best seasons of his career — left his hotel room and never returned.

Shortly thereafter, Silverio announced his defection to El Nuevo Herald, sister publication of The Miami Herald.

In the Miami Herald‘s report, Silverio explains:

“It is not easy leaving behind what is yours, but after a giving it a lot of thought I made this decision for my future and for my family,” Silverio said. “My dream, of course, is to make the Major Leagues, and starting today I will start doing what I need to do to accomplish that.”

Silverio boasts a 1.9 ERA and has kept opposing batters to a .245 average this season according to the AFP. The pitcher also earned himself a shoutout from Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen via Twitter yesterday:

So, does this sort of thing happen often? Yes, actually, but not so much in Iowa. A detailed report from the Des Moines Register seems to indicate as much.

My guess? Silverio took one look at that lush Iowa landscape and made his decision right there on the spot.

[Miami Herald | AFP | Des Moines Register]