Juan Carlos Linares

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Juan Carlos Linares
Born: (1984-09-07) September 7, 1984 (age 30)
Havana, Cuba
Bats: Right Throws: Right
This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Linares and the second or maternal family name is Izquierdo.

Juan Carlos Linares Izquierdo (born September 7, 1984) is a Minor League outfielder who currently plays for the Vaqueros Laguna of the Mexican League. Listed at 5' 11" (1.80 m), 190 lb. (86 k), Linares bats and throws right handed. He is also known as J. C. Linares.[1]

A stocky slugger and solid defensive player, Linares is able to play all three outfield positions, although he has performed most of his career at center field and right field. He played from 2002 through 2009 for the Vaqueros de la Habana of the Cuban National Series[2] before being signed by the Boston Red Sox on July 8, 2010.

Linares came up through the top ranks in Cuba with players such as Alfredo Despaigne, Yulieski Gourriel, José Iglesias, Kendrys Morales and Alexei Ramírez. His most productive season came in the 2008–2009 tournament, when he posted a slash line of .325 BA/.430 OBP/.588 SLG, leading his club to the league title, while winning his second Gold Glove.[3] With an eye toward the 2009 Baseball World Cup, Linares attended the training camp but did not make the final cut and left Cuba shortly thereafter.

Linares defected from Cuba to the Dominican Republic to pursue a career in the Major Leagues, despite the fact that he was already well past the age many international prospects make that move. Several teams began showing interest, Boston included. In July 2010 he signed with the Red Sox for a reported $750,000 bonus[4] and was assigned to the Rookie-Level Gulf Coast League Red Sox the following month. After just four games with the GCL squad, Linares gained a promotion to Double A Portland Sea Dogs, where he hit .239 with one home run and five runs batted in in 13 games.[1]

During his time at Portland, Linares demonstrated above-average range and solid defensive instincts, combined with a solid-to-average bat speed, raw power and good speed. Nevertheless, he showed a lack of selectivity against advanced secondary pitches.[4]

Linares was limited to 34 games in the 2010 and 2011 seasons after suffering assorted injuries and an ankle surgery.[4] Finally, he had a full-season shot in 2012, and he made the most of it, putting up a .333/.403/.538 line in 58 games for Portland[1] and earning a mid-season promotion to Triple A Pawtucket Red Sox. He batted .297 and slugged .500 in 52 games for the PawSox, helping his team to clinch its first International League championship title in 28 years.[5] After the season, he was rated as the 17th best Red Sox prospect according to MLB.com.[6]

Nevertheless, Linares hit .200 in just 14 games for Pawtucket in 2013 and was released at the end of the season. He finished the year playing winter ball with the Gigantes del Cibao of the Dominican league, where he batted a .176 average in 18 games[3] before joining the Aguilas del Zulia of the Venezuelan league late in the midseason. He hit .342 and slugged .507 for the Aguilas in 20 games, including three homers, 16 RBI, and a .402 on-base percentage.[7]

Linares opened 2014 with the Vaqueros Laguna club of the Mexican League.[1]