Chapman defected, Cuba says

7/10/2009 - MLB

HAVANA -- Cuba has acknowledged the defection of pitcher Aroldis Chapman, a week after he walked away from a tournament in the Netherlands.

The Communist Party daily Granma said Friday that Chapman has hired baseball agent Jaime Torres to represent him, though Torres refuted the report.

"I wish," Torres told ESPN The Magazine's Jorge Arangure Jr., when asked if he were representing Chapman. "I haven't had any contact. I heard rumors that he's still in Spain but I don't know what he's doing."

Torres said he's tried to find someone who can get in touch with Chapman, but hasn't been successful.

Cuba previously had said nothing about Chapman's defection, despite widespread media coverage in exile-dominated Miami.

The 21-year-old Chapman attracted widespread attention during the World Baseball Classic with a fastball touching 100 mph. He is considered among the top left-handed pitching prospects in the world, and the best pitcher to abandon Cuba since Jose Contreras left in 2002.

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