On August 24th, 2010, I was in Harrisburg to catch the Portland Sea Dogs playing against the Senators. And this kid was quite the eye-catcher.
My photo to the right is my best shot of Juan Carlos Linares, which I took a week or two before his 26th birthday. He's a little outfielder - 5'11", 190 lbs - who defected from Cuba to play, and I'm impressed. He didn't make Cuba's World Cup team in November of 2009 and therefore decided to sign with Boston, and he played for both the GCL Red Sox and Portland in 2010, where he was decidedly average (.267 at GCL, .239 at Portland). But here's the thing - he absolutely shone in the Arizona Fall League this past autumn. His swing is nice and short and he can use the entire field with his hitting, but he's going to have to take it easy and learn some patience before he can handle Major League pitching.
Now where are we going to put the kid in 2011? There's a good chance he could make his way up to Pawtucket based on his AFL performance. He did enjoy a Spring Training invite this year, so many fans got a good look at him for the first time. Although the Sox have plenty of outfielders floating around, he's an intriguing possibility to keep in mind as 2011 starts up.