By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, July 2 — One of Cuba’s top young prospects, left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman has abandoned the national team in Holland for the Rotterdam Tournament, apparently with plans to seek a US Major League contract, reported IPS on Thusday.
Chapman, 21, who has a fastball that has recorded 100 MPH on several occasions, was a top starter on the Cuban World Baseball Classic team last March and the ace of his home team Holguin in the Cuban Baseball League.
Each time the Cuban team plays in international events scouts pursue the top players trying to lure them with million dollar contracts.
Cuba’s baseball players are technically all amateur although they do dedicate themselves full time to the sport. They receive a small salary, like most Cubans, and some benefits that puts their life style a little above the average citizen, but far from the life of a millionaire.
The Rotterdam Tournament begins on July 2 and Cuba’s first opponent is The Netherlands. The island’s second game is against Japan, the World Baseball Classic champions in both 2006 and 2009.
For more on the subject of Cuban ballplayers leaving the island for greener pastures and its effect on the national team read “Defectors Impact on Cuba’s Squad” by Cuban baseball expert and HT contributor Peter C. Bjarkman: http://havanatimes.org/?p=5436