Thursday, July 02, 2015

Giants Sign Lucious Fox in 2015 J2 IFA Period

The Giants have signed coveted 18 YO J2 amateur international free agent prospect, SS Lucius Fox, to a reported $6M bonus.   The Dodgers were the rumored favorites to sign him at $4M until the Giants came in at the last moment with their "buy now" bid.  A very happy birthday for him since he just turned 18 today.

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.

ogc thoughts

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).

12 comments:

  1. Evans was on Mr. T show today (Tolbert has become a pretty good interviewer; just saying):

    Said he was originally in US HS for his sophomore and junior years, but facing less playing time due to a better SS, decided to go back home to Bahamas.

    Giants viewed him as a first rounder for their pick or before. They saw him in workouts and Sabean had seen him in Florida, plus scouts had met in person and spend time with him.

    Was not sure they could land him or not, a dice roll, because Fox went through a quiet period, was not sure if he was having secret meetings or what.

    Unique player, and they are still planning on spending on others [didn't mention Genoves signing].

    He expects an international draft by 2017, but probably a separate one from the regular amateur draft.

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  2. Hello Mr. ogc! I love your rundown about Fox! I actually wrote my scouting report on my own about him here and a lot of adoration for him and the something more just got a new brother coming soon! http://wrenzieblogsgiants.blogspot.com/2015/07/sr-for-2015-giants-part-6-ish-lucius.html

    I have just a question regarding Fox and the rules. Once a player got signed in the international market like Cubans or Fox, are they still going to wait until next season to play for example the Dominicans in the DSL or they can play right away in America, go to Extended ST, then go to a minor league level? I'm pretty confused about the rules because I am not familiar with that. Thank you so much and great work!

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    1. I was trying to reply to you, but sometimes blogger throws it below, please see below for my reply.

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  3. Thanks. Sorry, I don't really know the rules regarding IFAs.

    GiantsProspects got into a discussion on this on Twitter, FYI, and the thought is that Fox, since he's more like a US prospect, having played here previously, could start playing in AZL once he's signed and got the proper visas to come over, and progress as necessary, maybe even SK.

    Now the Cubans apparently are handled by separate rules, they are generally MLB FA, and again, I would presume, could be placed in one of the US leagues. And since they generally are older than the other Latin IFAs, probably don't even have to start in AZL, other than to get feet wet, but could go into full season league somewhere.

    But most Latin IFAs are generally in the 16-18 YO age range (I know, some 19 or 20, but they are much rarer, I believe), so I would have thought they would end up in DSL, but I just had the idea to check on RafRod and Anvil, and lo and behold, both ended up in AZL after signing, and Anvil even saw some play with SK that same summer. So it looks like Fox and Genoves and whoever else signed will start AZL and then move up as the Giants see fix.

    Oh, and RafRod was actually hitting pretty well in SJ this season, until he had an injury and been out for two months now, too bad, it could have been a breakout year for him, and he's only 22 still.

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  4. I started digging around more and found some more info.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/lucius-fox-throws-a-wrench-into-july-2nd-signings/

    Nothing really new, but gives perspective of him being eligible, plus there is a video link there, showing his funky batting stance, with his back leg, that Wrenzie mentioned on his blog (see link above).

    Perfect Game has some info on his as well, for example, he's actually Lucius Fox Jr.

    http://www.perfectgame.org/Players/Playerprofile.aspx?ID=339286

    His profile, got a few video links there, as well as article links.

    http://www.perfectgame.org/Articles/View.aspx?article=10597

    He was ranked 54th on Oct 2, 2014.

    http://www.perfectgame.org/Articles/View.aspx?article=10651

    This notes that he pairs steady up the middle defense with "proven" bat.

    http://www.perfectgame.org/Articles/View.aspx?article=10651

    By November 24, 2014, he had slipped to 66th, and it was noted that he was a North Carolina State commit.

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    1. I then looked for BA info.

      http://www.baseballamerica.com/t/lucius-fox-jr/

      He was ranked in their HS Top 100 on Nov 19, 2014.

      http://www.baseballamerica.com/draft/east-coast-pro-notebook-day-1/

      On July 31, 2014, they wrote up his performance:

      Middle infielder Lucius Fox Jr., showed his speed and hit well in game action Wednesday. The American Heritage High (Delray Beach, Fla.) product ran a plus time in the 60-yard dash. The switch-hitter showed an up-the-middle approach and quick, line drive-oriented swing with a direct and level bat path, peppering the pitching L screen with hard line drives.

      This up-the-middle orientation translated to game action as the Bahamas native went 3-for-3 at the top of the Rays lineup. He served a single into center field on an 88-mph fastball from Nikorak in his first plate appearance. Fox hit righthanded in his next trip up against Brendon Little and produced one of the hardest hit balls of the day, squaring up a 91-mph fastball and driving it to the right center field gap for a double. He again squared up 91 his next time up on a single to left center field.

      The North Carolina State commit has a long, lean and athletic build at 6-foot, 160 pounds with room to get stronger. Fox is young for the class and won’t be 18 until after the draft. The athletic Fox showed well on the body control play in front of him and showed a loose arm that threw from a low slot on the run. His arm and actions likely fit best at second base in the long run.

      ogc note: ooh, young for the class, and rankings have him top 50-100, so according to the BP study on draft and age, he might show an extra something in development due to him being young

      http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/insider/story/_/id/13180926/profiles-top-10-international-prospects-plus-other-international-buzz-mlb

      Nothing specific, really, from ESPN, but it noted "does have a half-dozen potential All-Stars and a deep middle class of about 20 players who have enough tools to project for some sort of big league value.". Since most rankings have Fox in Top 3-4 (and ESPN, at worse, Top 10 since he was noted), have to think ESPN thinks Fox is a future All-Star.

      http://baseballdraftreport.com/2014/09/25/2015-mlb-draft-hs-shortstops/

      This site has been covering the draft for years now, generating mocks and rankings. He noted this about Fox: "Lucius Fox is a great athlete with easy plus speed."

      ogc note: if there is anything the Giants like about prospects, it's when they are great athletes. That was a common trait I would notice whenever I read a profile of a new Giants prospect in BA's annual handbook, even Sandoval was noted to be athletic (although it was noted, despite his size).

      This blog author also noted in a later post that at one point, could make the case that Fox was the third best SS in the draft (and that included Miller in the mix, I presume).

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  5. I live near American Heritage High School. My kids went to Nova, where Michael Morse went to high school, another baseball powerhouse. My son was the sports Editor of the paper when he went there. My daughter was friend with Morse in high school, but she now lives across the country from me, in the state just North of California. I hope Fox becomes a really super player, and does so by 2019 in the majors, although I think they are looking more for 2020. I hope because of the current losing streak that the giants do not make any stupid moves.

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    1. Wow, you have lived near where all the action is. Know anybody who has seen Fox in action enough to give thoughts/report?

      2019 is only 4 years away. Fox is only 18 YO and won't play that much this season, so realistically, full seasons starting in 2016 means a fast rise through the farm system to make the majors by age 22, let alone be a "super player". 2020-2022 (ages 23-25) is much more realistic just to make the majors.

      On top of that, while he was a highly ranked (roughly top 50) prospect, the odds of those players making the majors and becoming a good player, a star, is very low, maybe 1 in 20 chance (or 5% chance).

      He's a lottery ticket (expensive one, but still one), so be excited and enjoy his climb (hopefully) through the minors, and hopefully the factors that convinced the Giants to spend all that money on him leads to some good baseball, but it is a tough road to navigate, so don't be surprised if he falters or fails (see AnVil and RafRod, plus Gustavo).

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    2. I do not find the Giants making a lot of stupid moves, so I would not worry about that. And the moves that they have made have paid off pretty well the past five seasons.

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  6. http://www.sfchronicle.com/giants/article/Giants-Splash-Hamstring-issue-keeps-Posey-out-of-6373254.php?t=f946369a0c5c56181f&cmpid=twitter-premium

    Giants have signed 15 IFA for a total of $7.8M, with, of course, $6M to Lucius Fox and $500K for Genoves. That still means $1.3M between the remaining 13 signees.

    They are far above their $2.13M slot, but as Hank tweeted earlier, the Giants could trade for slot allowance from other teams. So while they owe 100% tax on the difference, they could be acquiring other team's allowance to reduce their penalty tax.

    Fox is on his way to Arizona to work out at the Giants facility there, but he's not playing there this year. He noted in his interview on KNBR that he'll be going there to get into shape and to get some instruction. Apparently, while he signed last Thursday, the contract don't start until 2016.

    Some good quotes from Fox:

    "My time in America helped me a lot," Fox said. "It helped me bacome a man much sooner and it matured me. Even the baseball there made my game even better. Playing against guys as good as me or even better, you get to see what you need to work on to take that next step.

    "I got to see a lot of guys from different states. Competing against them made me a better ballplayer. My time in America made me a better pserson, just willing to attack the world and see what's out there."

    Fox said he liked Jose Reyes and Robinson Cano growing up.

    "I feel like I can bring the same energy and can change the game with my speed like Jose Reyes does," Fox said.

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    1. http://www.csnbayarea.com/giants/giants-hope-fox-lives-jose-reyes-comparisons

      Pavlovic has more info, including interview with Felipe Alou.

      “We see a lot of 16- and 17-year-old kids in the Dominican, but I haven’t seen a kid like that in the Dominican,” the former Giants manager said. “He’s a switch-hitter with speed and confidence. He reminds me of Jose Reyes, but he’s going to be taller than Jose. He has outstanding tools.”

      The Giants clocked Fox in 6.4 second in the 60-yard dash even though he was running into the wind. Alou was also struck by Fox’s balance at the plate and his maturity.

      “This is the first time I’ve been witness to the signing of an international free agent and he didn’t need an interpreter,” Alou said. “I was surprised by his maturity.”

      Fox got $6.5 million according to MLB.com, and his makeup was a big reason why the Giants were willing to give so much to a teenager. Words like mature, intelligent and poised are thrown around when rival evaluators talk about Fox, and the Giants have long believed those traits have helped players like Joe Panik and Matt Duffy exceed expectations in the Majors.

      Fox is a shortstop right now but may be moved to center field before all is said and done. He will start his career in the instructional league and said he’ll play any position he’s asked. Asked why he chose the Giants, Fox said he felt like he was joining a family.

      “Me and my family felt they’re the best team and organization for us,” Fox said. “They made us feel at home.”

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  7. http://m.giants.mlb.com/news/article/135737964/dodgers-giants-may-ink-top-international-name

    In this article, apparently the Giants are pushing for the remaining Cuban star prospect, might get over $10M bonus. Given that bonuses are doubled by the penalty, I honestly can't see the Giants expending over $20M to get him, but rather is in the chase to push the Dodgers to pay more.

    The interesting note was that besides Fox, the Giants signed two other big bonus prospects: Venezuelan catcher Ricardo Genoves for $500,000 and Venezuelan pitcher Jorge Labrador for $250,000. They also signed another 15 IFA's for around $1M, so there probably were no other 6 digit bonuses given out. And I wonder if the Giants might try purchasing other team's allotments once the dust settles and other teams have open allotment, the Giants could offer to split the difference or trade a prospect to get the other team's allotment, to reduce their penalty, at least for the 15 prospects who are so far unnamed. At least that is what I would do.

    ReplyDelete

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