Cuban pitcher Chapman defects
Left-hander impressed during 2009 World Baseball Classic
Cuban pitching sensation Aroldis Chapman has defected in The Netherlands and says he's ready to sign with a Major League team, according to published reports.
But as of Friday, the Cuban's whereabouts remain a mystery.
In a report on ESPN.com, Dutch team spokesman Loet van Schelbeet said the pitcher was seen walking through the lobby of his hotel and climbing into a waiting car within an hour of the Cuban team's arrival Wednesday in the Netherlands for a baseball tournament.
He added that Chapman carried no luggage when he left the hotel.
Luis Carton, the head of the Cuban delegation, told The Associated Press that he had no idea where Chapman was.
"We are waiting for information. We do not know anything," Carton said. "No one knows anything about what happened, if he is sick, died or left."
According to the report, spokesmen for the Dutch Foreign Ministry and Department of Immigration said they had no knowledge of the case. A Spanish Foreign Ministry official also said he never heard of Chapman.
Additionally, U.S. officials in The Hague said they could not comment on individual cases because of U.S. privacy laws. They said, however, that arrangements exist for Cubans seeking asylum to enter the United States.
The site, CubaenCuentro.com, was the first to report that Chapman, a 21-year-old left-hander who was clocked at 100 mph while pitching in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, left the national team as it was participating in a tournament in Rotterdam.
Chapman told the site he was still in Europe, but would not reveal his location for safety reasons.
"I walked out easily, right through the hotel door, and I hopped into a car and left," Chapman said. "It was easy. Now the plan is to sign with a Major League team."
A source told ESPN.com that Chapman was scheduled to fly to Miami on Thursday.
Chapman, who also goes by the first name "Albertin," which he used in the World Baseball Classic, went 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA in two games for Cuba. He showed signs of brilliance, however, striking out eight in 6 1/3 innings. His fastball was clocked from anywhere between 97 and 100 mph.
"About the speed in my pitching, well, it's part of pitching," Chapman said then. "In order to become the best pitcher, I still need lots of things. I need to improve professionally. I need to work. I need to work with curveballs. I need to work with other kinds of pitches."