Bahamian infielder Lucius Fox Jr. is on the move, heading out of Tampa on a trade before Monday’s trade deadline.
The 23-year-old talented shortstop was traded from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Kansas City Royals for outfielder Brett Phillips on Thursday.
ESPN baseball columnist Jeff Passan tweeted: “The Tampa Bay Rays have traded for outfielder Brett Phillips. Prospect Lucius Fox is headed to the Royals. Please no Batman jokes.”
The move could be a blessing in disguise for the Bahamian infielder as he had a number of top prospects ahead of him in the Rays’ organization.
Shortstop Wander Franco is the number one overall prospect in all of Major League Baseball (MLB), according to MLB’s Top 100 Prospects List. The 19-year-old hit .327 with nine home-runs and 53 RBIs (runs batted in) for two teams in the minors last year.
Second baseman/shortstop Vidal Brujan, 22, was the Rays’ number three overall prospect and number 49 in all of baseball. He hit .277 with four home-runs and 40 RBIs for two teams combined in the minors a year ago.
The other infielder ahead of Fox on the totem pole for the Rays was Xavier Edwards – their number four overall prospect and number 77 in all of baseball. The 21-year-old hit .322 with one home-run and 43 RBIs for two teams in the minors last year.
As for Fox, he will join the Royals’ 40-man roster and be assigned to the club’s alternate training site at T-Bones Stadium in Kansas City. He has been working at the Rays’ alternate site since July 18.
Fox sent out a statement. It read: “Thank you for a wonderful four-year family experience to the Tampa Bay Rays. Heading to Kansas City and looking forward to a rewarding venture and completing the puzzle (God being my helper). Trusting Him (God) and the process for He remains faithful to His promises, despite COVID-19. Thank you all for the continued prayers, encouragement and support as I continue to pursue my dream.”
In this day and time of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fox has been pretty much inactive as the minor league seasons were cancelled this year and he had limited action in spring training.
The Royals have just one infielder on MLB’s Top 100 Prospects List – their number one prospect and number 11 overall Bobby Witt Jr. The 20-year-old hit .262 with one home-run and 27 RBIs in the minors a year ago.
Fox isn’t on the list but the switch-hitter had a respectable season last year while splitting time between the Durham Bulls out of the International League in Triple-A baseball and the Montgomery Biscuits which play in the Southern League in Double-A baseball. He batted a combined .221 with three home-runs and 34 RBIs. Fox was also a post-season all-star with the Biscuits and won the Southern League’s Best Hustler Award in 2019. He was a mid-season all-star for the Charlotte Stone Crabs out of the Florida State League in Class A-Advanced baseball in 2018, and was among the Arizona Fall League’s (AFL) Rising Stars and was on the All-Prospect Team in that league that same year.
Fox signed with the San Francisco Giants in 2015 and was traded to the Rays the following season. He has spent four seasons in the minors and is a career .244 hitter. The Bahamian speedster stole a Southern League-leading 37 bases for the Biscuits last season and posted a .340 on-base percentage. He was one of two Bahamians invited to spring training in 2019, the other being infielder in the Miami Marlins’ organization Jasrado “Jazz” Chisholm.
Fox’s talent is evident as he was actually dealt for a major leaguer. Phillips, 26, was hitting .226 in 18 games for the Royals this season.
Royals Assistant General Manager Scott Sharp said on a Zoom call: “We talked to Tampa about Fox for quite some time, not necessarily about Brett Phillips. [Fox] is just a really interesting athlete. He has three options left. He is using one this year. He plays shortstop. He can play second base. Some people have talked about him possibly playing center field because of his speed element.”
As mentioned, Fox stole a Southern League-leading 37 bases for the Biscuits last season. With him being placed on the Royals’ 40-man roster, and as a part of the Royals’ 60-player pool, he could be called up to the majors at any point this season. With the Royals lacking depth in their infield, this could certainly be the year for the talented Bahamian.