Down on the Farm: Jake Fox

This spring you might see a new guy behind the plate and wonder who he is. Well it might be Jake Fox, who most recently played with the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx and in the Arizona Fall League for the Mesa Solar Sox. He was among 11 minor league players invited to Spring Training by the Chicago Cubs organization. During the 2006 season, Fox split time between Daytona and West Tennessee, hitting .294 with 86 RBI’s between both teams (.361 OBP). Fox has had a reliable bat but his problem has been his defense. Last year he had 8 errors and 22 passed balls between the two clubs and threw out 30% of opposing base runners.

Fox was drafted out of the University of Michigan, in the 3rd round, #73 overall of the 2003 draft, one of 9 catchers taken in the draft by the Cubs that year. Even though Fox was a solid hitter in college he feels, strangely enough, that his play behind the plate got him his high draft choice. With his perceived liability behind the plate, the Cubs could see another position as a way to keep him moving up the system so they can eventually find a place for him or to gain value so they could use him in a trade. With that he has been getting some experience in the outfield and also at first base. He has had some trouble adjusting early to the outfield but he seemed comfortable at the end of the year. He is still going to be playing a lot behind the plate but knowing other positions allows him to get extra playing time during long series where he wouldn’t be able to play every game behind the plate.

Now he does have an invitation to Spring Training but don’t expect to see him in a Cubs uniform at Wrigley this year as things stand right now. He isn’t likely to make the team as a catcher and he doesn’t have enough experience in the outfield to make the team there either. He needs to use this chance to show the team what he has to offer. If Michael Barrett has more groin problems during the 2007 season, Fox could be called up to fill Barrett’s spot. He still needs to prove he can manage pitchers and hit big league pitching. If he can do that he could be the option the Cubs choose but that all depends on him and Michael Barrett. Both Fox and Chris Robinson will likely be sharing time behind the plate for the Tennessee Smokies this season.

Even if he doesn’t see Wrigley this year he gets a chance to show the coaches what he has and that could help him somewhere down the road. He has the bat to get him further, he just needs to get the defense figured out and he could be a good catcher for the Cubs or traded to another team. If he continues to improve he could take over for Michael Barrett as early as 2008. A catcher with a bat is a valuable resource but you don’t want a liability on defense. Once he works out his defensive issues the Cubs will take a serious look at him for the club. If he continues to struggle with his defense, he likely won’t go much further than where he is.

Baseball America’s 2007 Prospect Handbook was recently released and Jake Fox was ranked 24th among the top 30 prospects listed. Baseball America stated Fox must work on his defense behind the plate and improve on his pitch calling. While he did have a good season in 2006 while with the Daytona Cubs his plate discipline in Double-A leaves a lot to be desired at this point in his career.

Jake Fox’s Baseball Cube Page

Here is the list of the Cubs top prospects according to Baseball America:

  1. Felix Pie, OF
  2. Donald Veal, LHP
  3. Tyler Colvin, OF
  4. Jeff Samardzija, RHP
  5. Sean Gallagher, RHP
  6. Eric Patterson, 2B
  7. Scott Moore, 3B
  8. Ryan Harvey, OF
  9. Chris Huseby, RHP
  10. Mark Pawelek, LHP
  11. Juan Mateo, RHP
  12. Brian Dopirak, 1B
  13. Jae-Kuk Ryu, RHP
  14. Mark Reed, C
  15. Drew Rundle, OF
  16. Rocky Cherry, RHP
  17. Geovany Soto, C
  18. Billy Petrick, RHP
  19. Dylan Johnston, SS
  20. Josh Lansford, 3B
  21. Sammy Baez, SS
  22. Chris Robinson, C
  23. Mark Holliman, RHP
  24. Jake Fox, C
  25. Larry Suarez, RHP
  26. Rocky Roquet, RHP
  27. Sam Fuld, OF
  28. Scott Taylor, RHP
  29. Mitch Atkins, RHP
  30. Mike Fontenot, 2B

Baseball Prospectus top prospects:

  1. Donald Veal, LHP
  2. Felix Pie, CF
  3. Sean Gallagher, RHP
  4. Eric Patterson, 2B
  5. Tyler Colvin, OF
  6. Mark Pawelek, LHP
  7. Jeff Samardzija, RHP
  8. Chris Huseby, RHP
  9. Scott Moore, 3B
  10. Ryan Harvey, RF

Minor League Ball – John Sickels’ Complete prospect list:

  1. Felix Pie, OF
  2. Donald Veal, LHP
  3. Eric Patterson, 2B
  4. Sean Gallagher, RHP
  5. Mark Pawelek, LHP
  6. Jeff Samardzija, RHP
  7. Tyler Colvin, OF
  8. Jae-Kuk Ryu, RHP
  9. Scott Moore, 3B
  10. Ryan Theriot, INF
  11. Juan Mateo, RHP
  12. Adam Harben, RHP
  13. Mitch Atkins, RHP
  14. Jake Fox, C
  15. Chris Huesby, RHP
  16. Jose Ceda, RHP
  17. Ryan Harvey, OF
  18. Clay Rapada, LHP
  19. Rocky Cherry, RHP
  20. Chris Shaver, LHP

(Previous CCO article containing Cubs’ prospects lists of 2007)

While the names are the same, the order sure does vary.

Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver