Chapman's whereabouts unknown

Updated: July 3, 2009, 10:55 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

AMSTERDAM -- The whereabouts of Aroldis Chapman, a Cuban pitcher considered by many international scouts to be the No. 1 left-handed prospect in the world, remain a mystery, a spokesman said Friday.

Chapman, 21, was seen walking through the lobby of his hotel and climbing into a waiting car within an hour of the team's arrival Wednesday in the Netherlands for a four-nation tournament, Dutch team spokesman Loet van Schelbeet said.

Cuba's first game was scheduled for Thursday in Rotterdam.

Chapman told Spanish-language Web site cubaencuentro.com that he was happy, and that this was what he had envisioned. "I wanted to test myself in the highest levels of baseball," the Web site reported.

Sources confirmed to ESPN The Magazine that Chapman had defected, and one source said that he was scheduled to fly to Miami on Thursday.

The head of the Cuban delegation, Luis Carton, told The Associated Press he also 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."

Van Schelbeet said Chapman's disappearance appeared to be well-planned. He carried no luggage when he left the hotel, which was a few minutes away from the Rotterdam stadium.

He would be the most prominent Cuban baseball defector since Jose Contreras left during a tournament in Mexico in 2002. Chapman has a fastball clocked at more than 100 mph, though he also is considered a fairly raw talent.

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.

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.

Information from ESPN The Magazine senior writer Jorge Arangure Jr. and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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