PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Rays camp, it was Tampa Bay's No. 7 prospect, Lucius Fox. Fox, a native of the Bahamas, was going to high
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Rays camp, it was Tampa Bay's No. 7 prospect, Lucius Fox.
Fox, a native of the Bahamas, was going to high school at American Heritage in Florida, but moved back to his home island rather than spend his senior year in the United States. As a result, he was able to sign with the Giants as an international amateur free agent for $6 million in July 2015. A year later, he was part of the package sent to the Rays in the Matt Moore deal. He began his Rays career in the Class A Midwest League, earned a promotion up to the Florida State League and played in the Futures Game in 2017.
• Rays camp report
:: MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports ::
MLB Pipeline: You recently took a ball off of your knee. What happened and how are you feeling?
Fox: It happened two days ago, but I'm feeling better and I'll be in the lineup tomorrow (Monday), so I can continue my preparation for the season. It was the weirdest thing ever. I was supposed to start the big league game, so we were in Sarasota to play the Orioles. I was on my last round of ground balls, so I was turning double plays. After the eighth one, I felt prepared, my throws were accurate. I told the bullpen catcher who was hitting fungoes, "one more," but he made some signal with his hand and I didn't understand what he was trying to say. He just squared the ball up and it was a low line drive that skips off the grass. I just tried to get out of the way, but I wasn't quick enough and it hit me square in the knee. That was the last ground ball I was going to take before the game, so now I'm never going to say "one more."
MLB Pipeline: It's good that it turned out to be nothing serious, but for someone who uses his legs as much as you do, was there a little panic when it happened?
Fox: As it hit me, my leg went dead. I couldn't stand up all the way and walking was tough. I was hoping it was nothing serious that would affect my game in the long run. I got inside the training room and we worked it out and I started icing. A day after that, I felt better. And I breathed a big sigh of relief.
MLB Pipeline: As you prepare for this year, what were your takeaways from last year? By a lot of measures, it was successful as you earned a promotion and went to the Futures Game. What did you take from that into this spring and season?
Fox: Last year, I made a tweak with my swing after coming from the Giants. I implemented a leg kick and it worked for me in Spring Training. But once the season got going, I didn't have a rhythm with it. I started slow in April and then I switched it to a toe-tap. That allowed me to see the ball better and spit on bad pitches. My timing was there for the fastball. And I had a really good May. That really helped me and I think that's what got me to the Futures Game. I had a really strong May and stole a lot of bases and had a lot of multi-hit games. I continued on the path with my swing, trusted my swing coming in. I made some adjustments coming in, but I'm still using the toe-tap now. I feel like I'm in a better position this year than I was last year. Defensively, my accuracy with my throws. I was always a good fielder, but sometimes my throws would get away from me. So I've been working on that, on backhands, working on my time clock, knowing the runner and how much time I have. I'm also working on more extra-base hits. I like to steal a lot of bases, but I'm also trying to work on my power to get some balls over the wall and even some more doubles and triples.
MLB Pipeline: Those are two areas I wanted to ask you about. Let's start with your offense first. You may never be a 20-homer guy, but people do want to know if there's power to come. It sounds like that's something you're aware of.
Fox: I'm not trying to hit every ball out of the ballpark, but I'm trying to pick and choose when I can get a little bigger and try to drive a pitch. I don't just want to be known as a singles hitter. I want the defense to respect my power. I've been working in the weight room on my strength. And even with my swing, squaring up more balls and staying through more balls so that it can travel more to the gaps and maybe sneak some more over the fence.
MLB Pipeline: With your speed, a double can become a triple pretty easily.
Fox: Any way I can get to third for the guys behind me, the power guys, making it an easier RBI for them, I'm willing to do.
MLB Pipeline: On the defensive end, people have said along the way that maybe you should be a center fielder. How much does that motivate you to prove people wrong, and that you can stick at shortstop?
Fox: From when I signed, scouts and evaluators told me I'd be a really good center fielder. They said that my hands and my arm play at shortstop, but that some of my actions I had to clean up. From seeing that on scouting reports and hearing that, it just motivated me. Every day, I try to get as many ground balls as I can get. I work on my accuracy and work on my hands. I watch big league shortstops like (Francisco) Lindor, (Adeiny) Hechavarria, (Xander) Boegarts, to see what they do. They are elite at what they do and I just try to find ways to implement that in my game. I'm working hard to prove everybody wrong and hopefully the Rays will give me the opportunity to stick at shortstop and help the team win in the future.
MLB Pipeline: Before you went back home and eventually signed, people didn't really talk about the Bahamas in terms of baseball. Now there's you, the D-backs signed Jazz Chisholm the same year and they just signed Kristian Robinson last summer, while the Angels signed Trent Deveaux, too. How much have things changed there in terms of baseball?
Fox: Before me, we had two guys who had played professional baseball, but there wasn't really anyone on the national stage, with the prospect lists and the Futures Game and things like that. After my junior year, I started to get some attention. Then I went back to the Bahamas, I started seeing scouts coming to watch me practice and play, coming all the way to the Bahamas from the United States, that's a big deal. The academies there, they have Maximum Development and Elite, they're doing a great job with the ballplayers, giving everyone the opportunity to one day accomplish their dreams. Before, we didn't have opportunities. The thing was to somehow get to America and maybe go to college. Professional baseball was never really a goal of ours. Now, with the academies and scouts coming, we have a lot of up and coming players who will be really good. The academies have really opened the door for Bahamian players to become professional.
MLB Pipeline: Is there friendly competition between you? You and Jazz were signed at the same time. Do you talk about who will get to the big leagues first?
Fox: Always. We always talk about it. I work out with him in the offseason when I'm in the Bahamas. It's a friendly competition. I'm rooting him on; he's rooting me on. But we always trash talk. He's saying he has way more power than me, so in BP I try to show him up and stuff like that. He's an amazing player and has a bright future ahead of him. But Kristian Robinson has more power than both of us. He's kind of like a guy who was made in a factory. He can run, he's super-strong. All of the Bahamian baseball players, we stick together. We try to check up on everyone throughout the year and see how we can help each other, just cheering each other on.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.