Cubs Prospect Interview: Jake Fox (Part One)

When you think of top Cub catching prospects that have stood out in 2006, only a select few names come to mind. Most likely at the top of them all is West Tenn's Jake Fox, who is enjoying the most successful season yet in his minor league career.

The 24-year-old Fox began the year in a second stint at Class-A Daytona after garnering a big league invite to spring camp during the off-season. He proceeded to hit .313 in 66 games with the D-Cubs and earned a promotion to Double-A West Tennessee, where he's been since mid-June.

With the Diamond Jaxx in 31 games behind the plate, Fox has committed one error and has nine passed balls. As you have often heard him say over the years, defense has been the biggest thing Fox's critics often harp on.

Inside The Ivy visited with the Cubs' farm system leader in both home runs (21) and RBIs (79) during the Jaxx recent road series in Zebulon, N.C., against the Carolina Mudcats.

Inside The Ivy: How have things gone since we last spoke to you?

Jake Fox: I've been living out of the hotel most all season. I had a good place there in Daytona, but they brought me up here to West Tenn, so I've been living out of the hotel. I'm moving into a new apartment at the beginning of the month [in Jackson], so it's going to be nice.

My wife is going to come down and live with me for the last month or so. I'm looking forward to it. Right now, we're on a 10-game road trip. I'm ready to get back home and have my wife down, and finish out the season at home.

Inside The Ivy: You started off really well at Daytona, then cooled off a little bit at West Tenn. What would you say has been the biggest difference you've seen between the two levels?

Jake Fox: I would say the biggest difference is just the difference in the team I'm playing for. I was filling a different role for the Daytona team. It's been a transition for me to get used to the role they want me to be in here. Down in Daytona, I was a 3-4-5, middle lineup guy that was expected to drive in runs. My role was basically to be a main offensive threat.

When I came here to West Tenn, they put me in the 6-7-8 hole and it's kind of a different mentality when you go to the plate. It's a good thing, because I have to get used to it so that one day when I make it to the big leagues, I'm prepared. I would say that's been the biggest adjustment for me since I've been here. The level of pitching is not a whole lot different. You still see a lot of the same stuff you saw when you're in that Florida State League.

So the biggest difference has been dealing with the change of roles. The coaches here want you to take pitches in the count here and there, and to be able to move runners and showcase situational hitting. It's just an aspect of the game that I've never really had to be a part of before. Like I said, it's good that I'm a part of it now because eventually, I'll have to fill that role at the big leagues.

Inside The Ivy: You've told us before that your critics always like to harp on your defense. How pleased are you with the work you've put in behind the plate this season?

Jake Fox: Well, my main focus really has been on my defense. I did want to quiet those critics, because that has always been the biggest criticism of the way I play the game. Even when I went into big league camp this spring, they had a pre-conceived notion of how I played before they'd even seen me. The big league coaches and the guys who made those decisions had never really seen me play a whole lot. They had this idea that I wasn't very good behind the plate and I think I surprised a lot of them because I did perform very well.

It's been a big focus for me this season, more so than on offense, just because I felt like it was time I needed to quiet those critics. I've been doing pretty well. I had a little bit of a setback here at Double-A, just getting used to some pitchers and some new guys. It will only be a matter of time. People always have this idea about me before they get a chance to see me play. I feel like I've really shown some people what I can do this year, both behind the plate as well as at the plate, and that's been the biggest focus for me throughout the season.

Part Two of our interview with Jake Fox will be added in the coming days.

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