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Who Is Jake Fox?

The Chicago Cubs recalled former catching-prospect-turned-defensive-liability Jake Fox from AAA Iowa at the time he was leading the minor leagues in HRs with 17 and the team desperately needed some offense.  Given the gaudy numbers (.423/.503/.886), I wanted to go back and see what Baseball America had to say about him.

Here are the scouting reports on Jake Fox for 2007, 2008 and 2009 with BA's organizational ranking.  The progression is most interesting, and I think ends fairly negatively. 

2007, #24 C Jake Fox:

...He's easily the best hitter among their current catching prospects [Mark Reed (14), Geovany Soto (17), Chris Robinson (22)], but he is also the weakest defender. ...He hit a career-high 21 homers in 2006, and scouts credited him with doing a better job of using the whole field.  However, he did most of his damage while repeating high Class A....has to hit, because he's adequate at best behind the plate...some arm strength, but his footwork and transfer from mitt to hand don't work well....has more problems as a receiver, much of which can be attributed to a lack of concentration....He's a below-average runner but not a base clogger like many catchers are....The best case scenario is that he becomes Chris Hoiles.

2008, #19 OF/1B/C Jake Fox:

Fox generates split opinions both inside and outside of the organization.  Those who like him point to his right-handed power and believe he could be a regular at first base or left field.  [Listed by BA at the top of the organizations LF depth chart.]  Those who don't thinks he sells out for homers, an approach that won't work in the major leagues, and question whether he'll ever be effective against breaking pitches....While a good athlete for a catcher, he has below-average speed, range, hands and arm strength, which makes it a stretch that he can play an outfield corner on a regular offensive-minded catcher who had to move from behind the plate is similar to Ryan Garko's....He can hit fastballs early in the count, but he doesn't have much patience and is susceptible to off-speed pitches...

2009, #24 1B/OF Jake Fox:

There are scouts who swear that Fox's plus power would produce 25 homers if he got the chance to play every day in the majors.  The problem is that those long balls would come with a low batting average, plenty of strikeouts and absolutely no defensive ability...can crush any fastball out of any park, in part because he sits on fastballs and sells out for power every time.  He can't handle breaking balls, won't work counts and rarely listens to batting scout described his defense as "a notch above horrific."  Drafted as a catcher, he's now a first baseman/corner outfielder with substandard speed, range, hands and arm strength.  [Listed second on the organization depth chart at 1B behind Micah Hoffpauir.]  The best-case scenario is for Fox to have a career similar to that of Ryan Garko, another former college catcher who's dangerous with both a bat and a glove....

The comparisons to Chris Hoiles and Ryan Garko sent me to my Baseball Prospectus annuals for 2008 and 2009 to see who PECOTA said was most similar.  The 2008 annual listed Riccardo Ingram, David Gibralter, Ryan Garko and Stan Royer.  In 2009, the comparables are Dave Hengel, Tim McIntosh, Mitch Lyden, and Aaron Herr.

Yikes!  Amongst the eight comps, just Ryan Garko has made any decent major league contributions.  Scarier, the Garko comparable fell off the 2009 PECOTA projection.

Those scouting reports and comparables do not bode well for the success of Jake Fox as a major leaguer much less as a fantasy asset.  With Derek Lee at first and Micah Hoffpauir on the better side of the platoon, Fox has playing time obstacles to even disproving the scouts and PECOTA.