By Jerry Díaz/ @jerryto94
César Prieto went from being a Cuban Baseball National Series star and a Cuban National Team fixture to making his Spring Training debut, just ten months later.
In May 2021, the Cienfuegos-native escaped the Cuban delegation that attended the Americas Olympic Qualifier in Florida. He didn’t even make his on-field debut, as he jumped into a car after he got off the bus that drove the team from the airport to the hotel, and ran away.
Later on, during the period of international signings started on January 15, 2022, Prieto reached an agreement and signed with the Baltimore Orioles for a $650,000 bonus.
This Thursday, March 31, he made his Spring Training debut with a strikeout in his only at bat and a defensive error. Beyond the initial tension, it was not a common day in his career and he made it clear during post game statements to The Baltimore Sun.
“This feels like a dream come true,” Prieto said through team interpreter Brandon Quinones. “Since I was a little kid, this is a moment I’ve always dreamt of.”
He said that even though his family is still back in Cuba, his focus right now is baseball and doing “whatever I can to make myself be a part of the major league club.”
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde also spoke about that Cuba, saying that he has observed him closely in the Minor League camp and likes his left-handed swing.
“Great kid, really hard worker,” said the manager, and later added. “He was right on a couple of those fastballs, just missed a couple fastballs. Fun to see him out there. I know he was excited, and I was happy to watch him.”
Last Thursday was not just a day like any other for the Cienfuegos-born infielder.