By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
LUCIUS Fox has made another progression in the Tampa Bay Rays organisation, and is now just one step away from Major League Baseball.
The 22-year-old shortstop was assigned to the Durham Bulls, the Rays' AAA affiliate based in Durham, North Carolina. He saw his first action as a pinch hitter in the Bulls' 6-4 win over the Toledo Mud Hens Wednesday night at Fifth Third Field.
At 58-39, the Bulls currently lead the International League South by 2.5 games over the Gwinnett Stripers.
Prior to the call-up, Fox concluded his tenure with the Montgomery Biscuits on a nine-game hitting streak in the AA Southern League. In 84 games with the Biscuits, Fox led the Southern League with 31 stolen bases. He also hit .225 with a .341 OBP and a .707 OPS. He totalled 64 hits including 15 doubles, eight triples, three home runs, 26 RBIs, and scored 46 runs.
Fox is currently listed as the No.9 overall prospect in the Rays organisation and spent time with the club's major leaguers in Spring Training on the Grapefruit League roster. The Rays were listed as the No.2 farm system in all of the MLB.
"Fox's athleticism and speed are among the best in the organisation, and he has three other tools that should be at least solid. He's a switch-hitter who has the ingredients of a prototypical leadoff hitter with his advanced approach and knack for making line-drive contact from both sides of the plate. Fox projects for well-below-average power overall, but he tallies his share of doubles and triples thanks largely to the 70-grade speed that also fuels his impact potential on the basepaths," his MLB Pipeline Prospect Analysis said.
"A true shortstop, Fox has the range, hands and above-average arm strength to remain at the position long-term. He lacks consistency at times and will appear a bit raw with some of his actions, but he's also capable of making electric, highlight-reel plays. The Rays are confident in his abilities there, viewing him as an above-average defensive shortstop when all is said and done."
Last season, Fox achieved two All-Star appearances and his year was highlighted by his progression to the AA level and the Arizona Fall League. He spent 91 games with the Charlotte Stone Crabs of Single-A Advanced of the Florida State League where he hit .282 with a .724 OPS, .371 OBP, 23 stolen bases, 99 hits, 17 doubles, one triple, two home runs, 30 RBI and 54 runs scored. He was named to the Florida State League's Southern Division All-Star Team at the midseason classic.
That production led to a AA call up when the Rays assigned him to the Biscuits.
In 27 games with the Biscuits to conclude the season, Fox hit .221 with a .284 OBP, four stolen bases, 23 hits, three doubles, one triple, nine RBI and 14 runs scored.
The next progression was to the Arizona Fall League where he concluded the season with an AFL Championship as a member of the Peoria Javelinas.
In the AFL he hit .326 for Peoria with a .437 OBP, an .821 OPS in 22 games.
Fox had 29 hits, including three doubles, one home run, collected 11 RBIs, eight stolen bases and 12 runs scored. He was also named an AFL All-Star.