At the beginning of the 2014 season, it was clear the Boston Red Sox were done with Cuban defector Juan Carlos Linares who simply goes by J.C. Linares. Signed by Boston in 2010 with a $750k signing bonus, expectations were high for the Havana native who split time between the GCL Red Sox and the Portland Sea Dogs late that summer. After getting hurt in 2011 he put up a strong campaign in 2012 slashing 316/.364/.510 over the course of 110 games between AA Portland and AAA Pawtucket. After a less promising 2013 season thanks to limited playing time, Boston decided to cut ties with Linares releasing him into the free agency market.
It was clear however that Linares would not give up on the game. Banned from his native Cuba, the Mexican resident still needed to make a living. Now, the 29-year-old is playing for the Vaqueros de la Laguna of the independent AAA Mexican League and is proving the Red Sox organization wrong because he can in fact play the game.
Over the course of 68 games this season which ended roughly a week ago, Linares slashed .325/.427/.588 while clubbing an incredible 16 homeruns and 16 doubles making his extra base hit percentage nearly 41%. The Mexican League has been known as being quite friendly to hitters whereas pitching is less important, but numbers those high are impressive anywhere.
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It is clear Linares can still play the game which makes the fact that the Red Sox let him go a shame. Expectations were too high for the Cuban defector who could have potentially contributed to the Boston Red Sox at some point this year but instead, he knocked the cover off the ball elsewhere.
Although it seems unlikely he will ever return to the states to play baseball since the pay is good in Mexico as the lowest a player makes is over twice what the average Mexican citizen takes home in a year, Boston messed up with Linares by not giving him a chance this year. Obviously they will not make the same mistake with Ruseny Castillo, but it is interesting to think how many times teams may have been wrong to release a prospect.
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Maybe a few guys who were cut could have made it to the big league level and helped a team win a game. For Linares, this appears to be the case. There was not a doubt that he is a talented player, but Boston set their expectations too high and were disappointed when Linares did not meet them.