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Indians sign Cuban righty Linares to Minors deal

CLEVELAND -- The Indians' pursuit of international talent continued on Wednesday with the signing of Cuban pitcher Leandro Linares.

Cleveland signed Linares to a Minor League contract worth $950,000, and the right-hander has reported to the team's player development complex in Goodyear, Ariz. Linares defected from Cuba in September and resides in Miami.

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"We're confident that he will transition well into professional baseball," said Indians vice president of player development Ross Atkins. "He has already benefited from intense amateur experiences in international tournaments while playing for his home country, Cuba."

Linares, 19, pitched for the Cuban 16-and-under national team in competitions in Taiwan in 2009 and Lagos de Moreno, Mexico, in '10. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound pitcher made a name for himself on the island by starring for Villa Clara in the 16-and-under and 18-and-under divisions in the National Championships in Cuba from 2009-12.

Because Linares is younger than 23 years old and has not played at least three seasons in a Cuban professional league, he was subject to the new international signing guidelines established by the Basic Agreement.

Since the international signing period began on July 2, the Indians have also agreed to terms with four players, including shortstop Willy Castro for $850,000, for a total of close to $1.4 million. Cleveland entered the period with a bonus pool of $3,636,900.

In the First-Year Player Draft in June, the Indians used eight of their first 10 selections on pitching prospects. Cleveland began that push for arms by taking right-hander Dace Kime out of the University of Louisville in the third round and lefty Kyle Crockett out of the University of Virginia in the fourth round.

"We are glad to add Leandro to the group of recently-drafted pitching prospects that have all of the intangibles to become Major League starting pitchers," Atkins said. "He has a low-90s fastball, a great feel for his breaking ball and an average changeup. As importantly, he has the makings of a durable and repeatable delivery."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.

Cleveland Indians