Juan Carlos – J. C. Linares is not your typical prospect. At 27, he is older than most fellow Red Sox minor leaguers who joined the organization two years ago. That is because he was signed as an international free agent who defected from Cuba.
An advanced defensive outfielder whose natural position is center field, Linares has been an offensive force this season at Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket.
Linares, who will be 28 in September, was batting .340 with eight home runs, 33 RBI and a .941 OPS for the Sea Dogs when he was promoted to Pawtucket. So far for the Paw Sox, he has a .324 average with four home runs, 14 RBI and a .859 OPS in 11 at-bats.
Since he is 27 and has extensive experience in the Cuban professional league, the right-handed hitting Linares is more seasoned than most prospects and could help the Red Sox, which are reportedly seeking an additional right-handed bat.
He was expected to make an impact in the organization last year, but injuries derailed his progress.
Boston could also use Linares as a trade chip, and his presence could allow the club to include another outfielder in a package for a starting pitcher. Ryan Sweeney and Daniel Nava are part of Boston’s outfield surplus that could be dealt.
Since he is a plus defensive outfielder and a solid hitter, Linares is a better call-up alternative than 23-year-old Che-Hsuan Lin, who is an exceptional defensive outfielder with a strong arm and speed but possesses little punch at the plate, and Alex Hassan, a 24-year-old outfielder who is average defensively and at the plate.
Linares, Lin, Hassan and the defensive-minded Jason Repko are the four right-handed hitting outfielders on Pawtucket’s active roster.