MLB.com Columnist

Jesse Sanchez

Cuban pitcher reportedly seeks asylum in Puerto Rico

Gutierrez, 19, defected at Caribbean Series

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Cuban pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez, who abandoned his Pinar del Rio team earlier this week, is in the process of applying for political asylum in Puerto Rico, according to a report by Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia.

Ivan Ortiz, spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, told the paper he could not confirm or deny Gutierrez's petition for asylum due to security reasons.

Gutierrez would be subject to the First-Year Player Draft if he is granted asylum and gains residence in Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth. He could also seek residence in another country once he is granted political asylum in Puerto Rico and be subject to MLB's international signing guidelines because of his age and experience in Cuba's professional league.

The 6-foot-1, 172-pound Gutierrez, 19, the Serie Nacional rookie of the year during the 2013-14 season, and shortstop Dainer Moreira, 30, left the team Tuesday night at the Caribbean Series. Moreira's whereabouts are unknown.

Gutierrez and Moreira walked out of the team hotel and have been aided by artist Williams Carmona and a group of Cuban exiles, according to a report by USA Today.

"They're doing very well," Carmona told the news outlet. "Obviously, many of the players who get to this point aspire to get to the big leagues, and they do as well. We're going to help them as much as we can."

Carmona said he made contact with the players at Hiram Bithorn Stadium before a Caribbean Series game and will not be brokering a contract, the report said.

El Nuevo Herald in Miami reported Jay-Z's agency, Roc Nation, has been in contact with Gutierrez.

Gutierrez went 5-5 with a 3.90 ERA during his rookie season, primarily pitching out of the bullpen. He also sported a 2.45 ERA as a reliever during the current 2014-15 season.

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.