Ariel Prieto Fernandez
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 3", Weight 225 lb.
- School Fajardo University
- Debut July 2, 1995
- Final Game May 10, 2001
- Born October 22, 1969 in Havana, Cuba
Pitcher Ariel Prieto won 15 games over parts of six seasons in the majors.
Born and raised in Cuba, Prieto led the western division of the Cuban Serie Nacional with 51 walks for Isla de la Juventud in 1989-1990. He threw three shutouts in 1993-1994 to tie Liván Hernández, José Báez, Pedro Luis Lazo and José R. Riscart for the Serie Nacional lead. However, he never made it onto the Cuban national team.
Prieto defected in 1994 and was selected by the Oakland Athletics with the fifth overall pick in the 1995 amateur draft. He went straight to the majors for the A's, making his debut on July 2nd of that year and making his first start five days later. He was the first draftee to go directly to the majors since Darren Dreifort in 1993; it would be five more years before Xavier Nady would be the next. After going 6-7 for A's in 1996 while splitting time between the majors and minors, he was Oakland's Opening Day starter against the Cleveland Indians in 1997.
Prieto missed the entire 1999 campaign following surgery but came back in 2000 to play part of the year in the majors with the A's. He got his last taste of big league ball with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2001 and then spent time in the minors in the Pittsburgh Pirates, Detroit Tigers, and Florida Marlins chains. In 2006, Prieto took the mound for Venados de Mazatlán.
Following his playing days, Prieto was pitching coach for the AZL Athletics from 2009 to 2011. He filled the same role with the Vermont Lake Monsters in 2012. In 2013 and 2014, he moved up to the parent Oakland Athletics as a coach, where part of his duties was serving as the interpreter for fellow Cuban Yoenis Cespedes. In 2015, he moved to the Arizona Diamondbacks to serve as a coach in a similar capacity, the D-Backs having just signed another Cuban, Yasmani Tomas, over the winter. He was let go after the 2017 season.
Prieto became pitching coach of the GCL Mets in 2018-2019.