The Pirates signed righthanded Cuban defector Serguey Linares in early February, and now it looks like the 23-year-old is close to getting out of Pirate City and onto a full-season club.
Linares, who signed with Pittsburgh for $125,000, went 7-10, 5.59 with a 111-86 strikeout walk ratio in 163 innings in two seasons in Cuba. He hasnâ€™t pitched competitively since 2005 because of a lengthy process of getting unblocked–the approval process Cuban defectors have to go through to be cleared to sign with a major league club.
But apparently the Buccos are set to move Linares to low Class A Hickory within the next week.
â€œHeâ€™s in extended now, but heâ€™s almost ready to go,â€ Pirates pitching coordinator Gary Ruby said. â€œWeâ€™ll get him out to low A soon. Heâ€™s a big, strong, physical righthander with power stuff.â€
Linaresâ€™ fastball velocity has been up to 92-94 mph in extended spring camp, and he complements his heater with a sinker, hammer curveball and developing changeup.
â€œHeâ€™s got a curveball from hell,â€ Ruby said. â€œHeâ€™s a big horse and weâ€™re excited to get him out and see how he does. He throws downhill with hard stuff. Heâ€™s really made a lot of progress in the short time weâ€™ve had him.â€
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