Friday November 12, 2010 | 05:26 AM

So he is treating the Arizona Fall League like Little League, smacking the ball at will. Is Juan Carlos Linares really a prospect?

The quick answer is yes, even though he is 26 years old.

We've written about Linares before. But here's a recap: Linares, born Sept. 7, 1984, is a recent defector from Cuba. He signed with the Red Sox last year and played briefly with the Sea Dogs (batting .239 with one home run in 13 games).

These days, in the Arizona Fall League, Linares is batting .424 (25-for-59) after a 3-for-5 game on Thursday. He has seven doubles, a triple and three home runs.

He could begin the 2011 season in Portland, unless he tears it up in spring training.

Think he's too old?

Did you think Kevin Youkilis was too old when he came to Portland in 2003? Youkilis was 24. He was eventually was promoted to Pawtucket and, by 2004, reached the majors at the age of 25.

Linares is two years older at the same stage. He may not develop into the kind of star Youkilis is, but he is hardly washed up and, in the end, he may be contributing in Boston by 2012.

About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

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