Yasmani Tomas, top Cuban baseball player, defects

Cuban outfielder Yasmani Tomas has defected. Cuban outfielder Yasmani Tomas has defected. Photo Credit: AP

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HAVANA -- Cuban authorities say hard-hitting outfielder Yasmani Tomas of Havana's powerhouse ballclub Industriales has defected.

Communist Party newspaper Granma said Friday that he left the island "through unscrupulous, illegal human trafficking."

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According to BaseballdeCuba.com, Tomas hit .286 last year with 15 homers, 45 runs scored and 60 RBIs.

The website says he is "without doubt the 'slugger' of the team."

A number of Cuban baseball players have defected over the years, tempted by the prospect of multimillion-dollar contracts with Major League Baseball clubs.

This year Cuba began letting active players sign lucrative temporary contracts in foreign leagues such as Japan and Mexico.

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