Tracing Rays prospect Lucius Fox's path from the Bahamas

Lucius Fox was already out for the season with a foot injury when the Rays acquired him in a trade with the Giants.
Lucius Fox was already out for the season with a foot injury when the Rays acquired him in a trade with the Giants.
Published Mar. 22, 2017

PORT CHARLOTTE — He was 7 when he started playing baseball at the urging of his gym teacher in his native Bahamas. He was 12 when he moved to South Florida to attend school and develop his game on American soil.

He was 18 when the Giants offered him a $6 million signing bonus as an international free agent. A year later he was traded to the Rays in the Matt Moore-Matt Duffy deal. He came with a season-ending foot injury.

Lucius Fox, 19, is a sky's-the-limit, switch-hitting shortstop. He's also a mystery to the Rays, having recovered from a stress fracture in September in time to play one Instructional League game.

Asked what he knows about Fox, Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics said, "Hardly anything, actually."

Actually, they know more.

The Rays scouted Fox at American Heritage High in Plantation, at the Perfect Game and East Coast Pro Showcase and again last summer at Augusta in the Class A South Atlantic League. They knew enough to not make the trade unless Fox was included.

With the minor-league side of camp now playing games, the Rays will fill in the blanks.

"We're really anxious to see him (play) for more than a day," Lukevics said. "We're anxious to see him play now and see how the tools play. Other than rehab and doing some workouts, he's relatively unknown to us."

What they do know

Manager Kevin Cash and bench/infield coach Tim Foley spent time with Fox last month before big-league camp began. Foley hit grounders to Fox and watched him take batting practice.

Cash said it's easy to understand the hype.

"He has an 'it' factor," Cash said.

Said Foley, "He's a good-looking kid. He's got the actions to play shortstop. Good glove. I liked him. We liked what we saw."

How it began

Fox and his cousin Rizzario Russell were in gym class when the teacher told them about baseball tryouts and suggested they give it a shot. Russell was interested and since the cousins did everything together, Fox went along. He played third base.

"From there I was stuck on baseball," Fox said. "It was one of those things. I never knew about baseball. Once I went to the tryout I fell in love with it."

Coming to America

Fox said the sport is growing in the Bahamas, which has produced six major-leaguers, including former Reds outfielder Ed Armbrister. But to hone his game, Fox knew he had to play high school ball in America, landing at American Heritage.

"More opportunities and better facilities and stuff were here," he said.

Fox stayed for 2½ years, moving home in time to be ruled eligible for the international draft, a move that netted Fox a much larger signing bonus than he would have earned had he entered pro ball through the baseball draft.

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The trade

The Giants sent him to Class A.

"That's a tall task for a first-year player, and he handled his own," Lukevics said.

Fox batted .207 with a .305 on-base percentage in 75 games before the injury.

Then came the trade, which took place a year after the Giants spent big money to sign Fox.

"That's what made me so surprised," Fox said, "but that's the business side of it. I'm happy to be here."

A-Rod, Jeter and Lindor

Fox's grandfather Willard followed the Yankees back home in Nassau. Fox's dad, Lucius Sr., was a Yankees fan. So …

"I loved the Yankees. Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. That was their team and we always watched them, so they became my team, also," Fox said. "Then as I got older I started keying in on certain players and tried to model my game off theirs."

Jose Reyes was one.

"It's (Indians shortstop) Francisco Lindor right now," Fox said. "He's one that I really watch and see how he does things. I try to put his game into my game, try to work like him. But he's a good person to watch, you know. He's talented."

Rubbing elbows

Fox spends the offseason in Miami. He works out at Bommarito Sports in Davie alongside Miguel Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez. Also working at the complex were Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot, Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry, Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell and Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

When asked if he showed Beckham how to catch a football with two hands, Fox laughed and said, "I'll let him stick to what he does best. I'll stick to baseball."

He said he does run pass routes and is learning to throw a football as part of his conditioning.

"I'm working on it," he said. "I think it's about 75 percent right now. When I try to get it out far it's kind of like (wobbly). It's way different than throwing a baseball."

The future

Fox will begin the season at low A Bowling Green.

He hopes to reach the big leagues by the time he is 22. He hopes to remain at shortstop, but if he is moved to centerfield, he will embrace the move.

He wants to realize the dream that began when he was 7 and introduced to a foreign sport.

"People asked me all the time if I had a Plan B, because I always said I wanted to be a professional baseball player," he said. "I told them I don't have a Plan B, honestly. I was just thinking baseball, baseball, baseball. I never had a fallback plan, so I'm just going to work hard here and hopefully have a long career in the major leagues."