Scout's View: Serguey Linares




After signing with the Pirates for $125,000 in February, Serguey Linares has been fast tracked through the system.

The 23-year-old Cuban defector, who started the season in extended as he made adjustments to the American game, began his pro career at low Class A Hickory where he went 1-0, 1.61 in 22 innings.

After just four starts for the Crawdads, Linares was quickly promoted to high Class A Lynchburg. The righthander has been much more hittable in the Carolina League, and his command hasn't been what it was. In 24 innings, Linares has gone 1-3, 5.25 with 21 walks and only eight strikeouts.

Linares will represent the Pirates on the World team in this year's Futures Game in San Francisco, bringing a wide range of velocity with his fastball and a curveball that looks like it came out of a time machine from the 1960s.

We caught up with a veteran National League scout to give us his assessment of Linares:

"He's got the widest range of fastball velocity you'll ever see," the scout said. "He's anywhere from 85 mph to 93 and will flash you 94 at times.

"He pitches pretty easy at 86, 87, 88 and then he adds when he's in trouble. He's got one of those really nice, old-fashioned curveballs that you just don't see anymore. But he didn't use it very much. I didn't even see a changeup. He was just changing speeds and locating the fastball--that's what he does.

"He's kind of frustrating to watch, because you know there's easy 93 in his arm but he doesn't use it unless he's in a tough spot.

"He walks too many. He's a nibbler. He's not wild; he just misses here or there and goes to a lot of three-ball counts. He's averaging something like four walks a game, but he actually doesn't get hit too hard. Guys don't really make good, hard contact against him.

"He's got a smooth delivery and there's not a lot of effort to it. He does change arm angles a little bit--not sure if that's on purpose or not. He'll vary from a three-quarters to a high three-quarters and I thought he was better from that high three-quarters slot. There's some deceptiveness to him. He doesn't give in, I'll give him that.

"I think he's still learning how the game is played in the States, and I think part of that is he tries to be too fine with his pitches. There is no changeup for me to speak of, but with the way he changes speeds with his fastball and that slow, 70-72 mph curve he really doesn't need one . . . Not now anyway. I just wonder how that will play in a starting role at the upper levels. And he's got to command the fastball better and attack instead of trying to be too fine. That's when he gets into some trouble, but then again, that's the only time you see 93s and 94s."