Red Sox's Linares Could Move Quickly





BOSTON—Little was known about Juan Carlos Linares when he was sent to the Arizona Fall League. The Cuban was signed by the Red Sox last summer after impressing the team with his across-the-board tools, most notably his raw power, speed, ability to play the outfield (including center field) and baseball IQ.

The 26-year-old made brief stops in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and Double-A Portland, but it wasn't until he played for Peoria in the Arizona Fall League that his performance gained notice. He hit .397/.423/.662 and showed an ability to barrel the ball consistently.

"The fast-twitch bat speed is the best tool that stands out to me, watching him play," farm director Mike Hazen said. "This guy's got a knack for turning around a fastball."

The Sox are still getting to know the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Cuban defector. He played against advanced competition in Cuba, where he was a strong defender who exhibited power and patience. It is too early to say how his plate discipline will translate—he walked just once in 71 AFL plate appearances.

In some respects, because of his experience in Cuba, his most significant adjustments will occur off the baseball field rather than on it.

"The developmental adjustments for someone with JC's experience are probably more cultural than baseball related," vice president of international scouting Craig Shipley said. "Of course there are the adjustments to an organizational approach to development. That said, an older player has a better feel for his own strengths and weaknesses, making the transition easier than a much younger payer like (fellow Cuban Jose) Iglesias."

The Sox believe he's a legitimate prospect, while acknowledging that his age means his development must occur on an aggressive timetable. That was part of the logic underlying the team's decision to invite Linares to its January rookie development program.

"You have a shorter window in which you can be considered [a prospect]," said Hazen. "When it's a high school kid at 22, everyone is still saying, 'He's still young. He's still a prospect.' You're not going to be saying that about this guy at 31."

Sox Yarns

• In addition to Linares, the Sox also invited catchers Tim Federowicz and Ryan Lavarnway and infielders Will Middlebrooks and Oscar Tejeda to the rookie development program. Pitchers invited were Robert Coello, Stephen Fife, Stolmy Pimentel, Jason Rice, Clevelan Santeliz and Alex Wilson.

• Former Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman was hired as hitting coach for short-season Lowell, while Chili Davis was named hitting coach for Triple-A Pawtucket.