Weight: 220 lb.
Born: 3/4/1990 in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
College: University of Hawaii
Acquired: Drafted in the 2nd Round of the 2011 June Amateur Draft
Signed For: $392,400
Linsky wasn't drafted out of high school although he was a decent prospect. Instead, after graduating from Peninsula High School in Rolling Hills Estates, CA, he enrolled at the University of Hawaii, where he really began to raise his stock as a future Amateur Draft pick.
His freshman season at Hawaii in 2009 wasn't much to talk about as he pitched to a 8.47 earned run average in 12 appearances, but as a sophomore Linsky really began to flourish.
Linsky dominated out of the Hawaii bullpen in 2010 going 4-0 with 12 saves and 1.64 earned run average in 32 appearances. He struck out 28 hitters in 44 innings and started the campaign by pitching 15.1 consecutive scoreless innings.
In 2011 as a junior, Linsky raised his stock even more by taking his game to an even higher level. In 27 games he was 1-1 with 14 saves and struck out 34 hitters in 34.2 innings. Opponents managed to hit just .191 off of him, and he showed improved command by walking only 9. He also allowed only 3 extra base hits (no home runs) the entire season. He was a second-team all-WAC selection and broke the Hawaii school record for saves.
Linsky was drafted in the second round by the Rays in the 2011 June Amateur draft (#89 overall) and after signing relatively quickly began his pro career in the New York-Penn League for the Short-Season A Hudson Valley Renegades.
Linsky didn't have a huge sample size in 2011 from which to draw conclusions from, but by all accounts his transition to professional baseball was a smooth one. His statistics from last season were very impressive and as a college pitcher he was well prepared for the level of competition he faced.
He appeared in 12 games for Hudson Valley totaling 24.2 innings and pitching to a 1.46 earned run average. His strikeout (9.9 K/9) and walk (2.2 BB/9) rate were both very good and opposing batters managed to only hit .207 off of the right-hander. He also showed the same ground ball tendencies that he showed at Hawaii and his Ground-out to Fly-out ratio was an impressive 3.00.
Linsky was promoted to Low Class A Bowling Green late in the season and picked up where he left off pitching 4.2 scoreless innings while striking out 3.
The scouting reports on Linsky give every indication that he should have success in the back-end of a Major League bullpen. He features a mid-nineties fastball that has a tremendous amount of sink, and also has a plus slider that he routinely throws in the 85-88 mph range.
Both his fastball and slider can be used to put away hitters as evidenced by his numbers last season at Hudson Valley. Linsky is a pitcher that generates a lot of ground balls, and hitters have an extremely hard time getting any type of lift off of his pitches.
His fastball/slider combination and his severe ground-ball tendencies spell "closer" to me, and by all accounts he has the perfect make-up to pitch in the late innings. He also underwent some minor mechanical adjustments last season at Hawaii and the results have improved his overall command.
Here is video of Linsky from the University of Hawaii in 2011:
Linsky is very polished as a pitcher and already has three years of experience pitching as a closer. He should begin the 2012 campaign at High A Charlotte and projects to be a fast mover through the system.
His stuff and make-up are both favorable to having success in the American League East and I wouldn't be surprised to see him pitching at Tropicana Field as early as 2013. Both his scouting reports and successful results the past few seasons are extremely positive and until he experiences some sort of hiccup there is no reason to think that he can't have sustained success going forward in the Rays' system.
I am admittedly very high on Linsky, but there is nothing thus far to indicate that I shouldn't be. An experienced closer with good stuff and ground ball tendencies should have no problem achieving success long-term, so I'll rank a pitcher like Linsky highly all day long.
John Sickles of minorleagueball.com has him at #21, and sites the same ground ball rates and sinker/slider combo as signs of future success.
The guys at RaysProspects.com have him ranked as high as #16 and as low as #25, so given my affinity for college pitchers, #18 seems like a pretty fair ranking. I would even dare say that if Linsky dominates in 2012, that he might be in my Top 10 going into 2013.
John Gregg is Publisher and Senior Editor of Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @RaysDigest. He can also be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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