After losing a number of key players to free agency, the Tampa Bay Rays went into the 2011 MLB draft with 12 of the first 90 picks. Already possessing a strong farm system, they continued to stockpile a variety of talent. With the 89th overall pick they chose right-handed reliever Lenny Linsky from the University of Hawaii.
Linsky finished his college career with 27 saves, the second most all-time for the Rainbow Warriors. He was most impressive as a junior in 2011, appearing in 27 games, posting a 1.30 ERA, and setting the school’s single season record with 14 saves, while striking out 34 in 34.2 innings.
Using a three quarters arm slot, Linsky features a low to mid-90’s fastball and a plus slider. He signed early and was able to pitch in a total of 16 minor league games this year between short season Hudson Valley and A-level Bowling Green. He was impressive, going 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 29.1 innings.
Linsky projects to be a major part of the Rays’ bullpen in the near future. I was recently able to catch up with and find out a little more about the rising prospect.
How did you become interested in baseball?
For my first birthday my Dad told me I got a baseball glove. I guess that was the start. I was able to throw a baseball before I was even able to walk. I got on my knees and would throw the ball to my Dad.
Who was your favorite team and player growing up?
My Dad is from Boston; from Back Bay, so I grew up a Sox fan. I followed them my whole life. Getting drafted by the Rays was kind of cool, getting drafted by another AL East team. I’ll get to play the Sox hopefully at one point.
How did you first find out that Tampa Bay was interested in you?
Early into my junior season, they had a scout out there in Hawaii. He just scouts Hawaii, so he watched me every time I threw. He would be there, and I would get lots of phone calls. They were actually the most interested team, so I was kind of pulling for them to draft me, and they did.
What was draft day like for you?
I just had all of my friends and family over. We were just hanging out and having a little party, a barbeque, and just watching. I found out early on the second day. I woke up early and I got all excited. They didn’t call me; I was just listening to it on mlb.com. It was just a radio broadcast and the guy just said ‘Linsky.’ I was like, ‘Wait!’ And he said, ‘Lenny. Leonardo Linsky.’ I just jumped up and screamed. The whole family opened up a bottle of champagne and started the party. It’s hard to describe. Even to this day, it hasn’t hit me fully yet because your whole life has just accumulated and gone to that one moment.
After you signed with Tampa Bay, did you do anything to treat yourself or your family?
I bought some Dr. Dre Beats headphones, which I had wanted for a while. I got a pair of new Oakley sun glasses. I also took my family out to dinner. I’ve been trying to put all of the money away.
Do you know if the Rays are going to keep you in the bullpen, or do they have another role in mind for you?
I don’t really know. I’ve been doing a lot of roles. I’ve been in late relief, in long relief, and closed. Whatever they want me to do, I’ll do. I was a closer in college.