Welcome to Baltimore, Jake Fox. Don't worry, we have low expectations. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Like so many others brought into the Orioles system by Andy MacPhail, Jake Fox is a former Cub. He was drafted out of the University of Michigan by the Cubs in the third round (73rd overall) of the 2003 amateur draft. He spent his first four minor league seasons as a catcher, but since then has played mostly first base and the corner outfield positions. This year for the Athletics, Fox played DH and LF for the most part, but also got into 8 games at catcher.
Fox was an offensive force in the minors, where he spent 6.5 seasons for the Cubs. In 640 minor league games, he hit .293/.357/.528 with 167 2B, 122 HR, 183 BB (6.9%), and 479 K (20.3%). And his numbers aren't skewed by a big showing in the low minors. From his time in A+ up to AAA his slugging and on base percentages increased by level while his batting average remained about the same.
Fox started the 2009 season with the AAA Iowa Cubs, where he simply destroyed AAA pitching to the tune of .409/495/.841 with 14 2B and 17 HR in just 45 games. With those numbers the Cubs couldn't ignore him any longer (although he did get 15 whole plate appearances in 2007 for them), and they called him up for the rest of the season. Fox played 82 games, mostly at 3B and LF, although he also logged time at C, 1B, RF, and DH. He hit .259/.311/.468 with 11 HR, 12 2B, 14 BB (5.8%), and 47 K (21.8%) in 241 PA.
In December 2009, Fox was traded to the Oakland Athletics with a guy you probably haven't heard of for a few other guys you probably haven't heard of. He and Oakland just didn't mesh, as he has been pretty awful for them. In 106 plate appearances over 39 games, Fox hit just .214/.264/.327 with 2 HR, 5 2B, 5 BB (4.7%), and 26 K (26.5%). The A's couldn't take it anymore, and thus Jake Fox is now a Baltimore Oriole for the bargain price of Ross Wolf.
So what is the team getting? Fox is a guy who can play a lot of positions, although from what I've heard, none of them all that well. He certainly wouldn't be worse than Garrett Atkins or Ty Wigginton at 1B. Worst case scenario, Fox puts up the same kind of numbers that he did in Oakland. At least in that case he is still probably the catalyst for Garret Atkins' release, so I'll take it. Best case scenario, the Orioles end up with a guy whose walk and strikeout rates leave something to be desired but who will hit for power, something the O's could certainly use. Fox is out of minor league options, but should he succeed enough to be a bench player, he is still under team control for a number of years.
Fox is 27 years old and not really worth getting excited over (although with this team, I suggest you take what you can get). But because he floundered in the Cubs system for so long, he only has 362 major league plate appearances. That's peanuts, basically, so there is potential for something decent to happen for him.
All stats provided by Baseball Reference