Cuban righthander Leandro Linares has agreed to sign with the Indians for a $950,000 bonus.
Linares, 19, has been one of the top pitching prospects on the international market who is subject to the international bonus pools. At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Linares pitches at 89-93 mph and tops out at 94. He has loose wrists and throws a 73-76 mph curveball that flashes as a plus pitch with good depth and helps him miss bats, although it can get loopy at times. He also mixes in a changeup that’s average at times and throws a fourth pitch that scouts have described as either a cutter or slider.
Linares left Cuba before he had a chance to make an impact in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, but he was one of the country’s top up-and-coming pitchers. When he pitched in Cuba’s 18U national league last year, Linares posted a 1.91 ERA in with 76 strikeouts in 66 innings. He wasn’t a great strike thrower, as he walked 46 batters and hit seven more. Scouts who have seen him working out in the Dominican Republic have also noticed that he needs to improve his control and repeat his release point more frequently, although he does have a sound delivery.
While Linares is claiming Haitian residency, scouts have evaluated him in the Dominican Republic and in international tournaments before he left Cuba, including the 2009 World Youth Championship in Taiwan and in 2010 at the 16U COPABE Pan American championship in Mexico. Linares is represented by Bart Hernandez.