He is from the Bahamas but had played for a U.S. high school ("powerhouse" American Heritage High School in Florida) and in a number of tournaments, so he's probably was well known as most of the top prospects who were available in the amateur draft that happened almost a month ago. However, because he's from the Bahamas, he went back home and declared for the J2 instead of the draft, and the MLB allowed this, which doubled or tripled (per Kiley's estimates, see below; Passan estimated $1-2M) his bonus money he would have gotten, as Kiley had him as a Top 50 pick had he been in the draft.
A fast switch-hitting SS, Fox was ranked 3rd by Fangraph's Kiley McDaniels, 4th by Baseball America's Ben Badler, and 3rd by MLB.com's Mayo and Callis.
Kiley's Notes on Fox
Fox played last season at American Heritage high school in Delray Beach, FL, on the same team as 2015 draft prospect SS Jonathan India. Fox played at the PG National and East Coast Pro showcases last summer to get exposure for the 2015 draft and there were rumbling he may transfer so he could get regular innings in the spring at shortstop as India was more polished at the position. Fox ended up moving back to his native Bahamas last summer and registered to become a July 2nd prospect instead of a draft prospect, a designation that MLB is very wary of allowing as other prospects have tried it in the past in an effort to get more money, but Fox's Bahamian roots convinced MLB to allow him to become and international prospect eligible to sign starting on July 2nd.
Fox was smaller last summer, around 6'1/160 and ran 6.5 or lower in the 60 (at least 70 speed), but his arm was a little shy for shortstop and while he had contact skills, he had little power. Since moving back to the Bahams, Fox gew an inch, added about 15 lbs. or muscle and is still an easy plus runner, but now with more pop and arm strength. The contact skills are still there and scouts would start him at shortstop in pro ball, though some thing his actions aren't quite good enough to stick and think he'll end up in center field. Second base is also possible, but he'll play shortstop for at least a few years in the minors with upside to be an everyday player at any up-the-middle position. Fox likely wouldn't have gotten more than $2-3 million in the draft but projects to get double that on July 2nd, with the Dodgers the most aggressive suitor, but the Giants, Padres and Rangers are all in the final mix as well.His draft board also notes that Fox is one of three IFA prospects that he rated at 50 or higher. He also puts Fox's risk at a 4, out of a 1 to 5 scale, where I assume 5 is highest risk. Given that he just turned 18, he might still grow some and will definitely add some more weight.
BA's Badler on Fox
Fox, who turns 18 today, went to American Heritage (Fla.) High but left to move to the Bahamas, where he was born, so he could sign as an international free agent. At 6-foot-1, 165 pounds, Fox is an excellent athlete with premium speed and feel to hit from both sides of the plate, with scouts split on whether he fits best as a middle infielder or a center fielder.
Badler notes in his own scouting report (subscription required but quoted on MLBTR) that some scouts feel he’ll move to center field. He adds that Fox has little power, but calls him a plus-plus runner with a chance to hit at the top of a big league lineup.MLB.com on Fox
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 60
One of the most intriguing prospects on the market, Fox is an interesting combination of speed, athleticism, a projectable body and age. A big reason Fox, who will be 18 on July 2, is highly coveted is because he played high school baseball in the United States and has experience in highly competitive showcases such as the Perfect Game National and the East Coast Pro Showcase. He also trains at the Maximum Development Sports Academy in Nassau.
Some consider Fox a five-tool player and the best overall athlete in the class. He's advanced. On defense, Fox is a sure-handed fielder with quick actions, and he has a strong enough arm to keep him at shortstop. He can also play second base. On offense, he's known for his ability to put the ball in play, and he can spray the ball to all fields. Fox has gap power, but he's gained bulk and strength during the last several months, and its impacted his overall game.
Fox was born in the Bahamas and was declared an international free agent by Major League Baseball this year, thus making him eligible for the upcoming international signing period. The Dodgers, Rangers, Reds and Giants are among the teams that have expressed strong interest in signing Fox.They corroborate the 6' 2" height and 170 pounds for Fox (vs. BA's older info of 6' 1", 165 pounds) in their profile.
This is a huge signing for the Giants! What's not to like? 5-tool athlete (though some are not sold on his power) and perhaps the best overall athlete in this group. He's a contact hitter with line-drive gap power (which the Giants seem to love, see Panik and Arroyo, for example) who looks capable of staying at SS, is a plus defender, and could play any of the up the middle positions of SS, 2B, and CF. At 18 YO, he probably won't make the majors until 22-23, at which point, Crawford would be 32-33 YO, when most players start to show their age. And some players take longer, and many IFA never even make the majors (see Villalona and RafRod, so far, and don't look likely to ever).
I like the fact that he was a well scouted player, since he played in the U.S. This is probably a huge part of the reason why the Giants went after and got him, as there is a lot of transparency with prospects who have played in the U.S. Their scouts undoubtedly covered him for the draft last month until he went back home and petitioned for IFA status. Whereas you often have to know somebody in order to get a showcase view of IFA's, so that probably helped make the Giants more comfortable with their assessment of his potential.
Even better, it was the Dodgers who were rumored to be in on him until, literally, just before he could sign today, late last night, the Giants became rumored favorite to sign him, they stole him from the Bridegrooms. And that's the way the Giants have played it with previous big money signings, nobody thinks they will sign the player until just before the players can sign. The Giants like to keep their kimono closed and are ninja stealth in a lot of these signings, as well as with draft picks.
Good also to see the Giants go out and get an IFA, in spite of all the penalties that happens when you bypass your team's spending allotment for the year (I can't figure the legalese of it all, but they seem to be pretty steep, potentially doubling the full amount paid for Fox), in spite of the failures before, Villalona and RafRod are pretty clearly busts now, and Gustavo Cabrera had his hand basically severed (though apparently fully recovered, but still, not really a good thing in any circumstance).
This sets a new record for IFA bonus signing for the Giants, and is just short of their largest signing bonus, $6.2M, given to Buster Posey way back in 2008. And with the penalties that will be assessed, probably around $10-12M in total, plus potentially more later, depending on how many other IFA they sign (they have reportedly signed the other guy on Kiley's board, C Ricardo Genoves of Venezuela to $550K bonus, and every contract signed going forward can be doubled, as to final cost to the Giants).
And the way other teams have been playing this IFA game, when you blow out your limit and get penalized, which also includes the inability to sign IFAs over $300K in the next couple of years, the Giants might as well sign as many high priced free agents that they can, as the rules do not prevent you from signing more once you go over the limit (oddly enough). So they could be in on other IFAs, rumors have tied them to Cuban Eddy Martinez (#2 on Kiley's list, #1 on MLB.com, he was not ranked on BA's list, probably because Cubans are not considered by under the same rules as other IFAs, I'm not up on all the legalese).