Fox, Patterson off to Fast Starts in AFL

The Arizona Fall League is over a week old and two Cubs prospects have shown no signs of slowing down.

Near the top of the stats page is Jake Fox, batting .333 (6-for-18, 2 2B, 6 RBI) through five games. He has appeared in four games behind the plate at catcher (his default position) and made one start at first base for the Mesa Solar Sox, which houses the Cubs' compliment of players each year.

Back in August, Solar Sox manager and Cubs coach Pat Listach warned that Fox would get some playing time at first in addition to the outfield to add to his versatility. Fox batted .313 in 66 games for Class A Daytona and went on to hit .269 at West Tennessee after rebounding from a slow start with the Double-A club following a mid-season promotion there.

"He's got to get his at-bats," Listach said in August. "He's got over 20 home runs so you have to be impressed by the power numbers."

Fox finished with 21 home runs and a Cubs minor league best 86 RBIs this season. Both were career-high's for the 24-year-old.

As far as position prospects go, joining Fox in the Fall League are second baseman Eric Patterson and third baseman Scott Moore.

Patterson wasn't deterred by a late-season call-up to Triple-A and has shown no signs of slowing down with an extra month or so in Arizona. He's collected nine hits in 29 at-bats through eight games.

Iowa Cubs manager Mike Quade, who figures to be on a big league coaching staff somewhere next year, saw Patterson only briefly following his promotion to Triple-A, but was impressed just the same.

"He had a great Triple-A debut," Quade said. "He played well defensively. It's my nature to be a little cautious when I see somebody only briefly. He needs to see the Triple-A level a little more and see what adjustments he needs to make the second time through, but he was extremely impressive."

Hands down the Cubs' most highly touted second base prospect, Patterson hit .263 at West Tenn in 121 games. He struggled through the final month and a half at Double-A, but came to Iowa in late August and batted .358 (24-for-67) in 17 games.

Moore, meanwhile, has struggled somewhat in the early stages of his first Fall League stint with the Cubs (Patterson and Fox are making return trips). He is currently only 5-for-25, but has drawn seven walks for a .375 OBP.

While Moore spent only one day in Triple-A this past season, he spent most all of September with the big league team, and Quade was able to form a few observations of the rising third base prospect.

"He showed some power to all fields," Quade noted of Moore. "He hit a home run to left and one to right, and played some pretty good third base. He's another guy that strikes out a lot, but hits home runs."

Quade said he'd like to see more of Moore.

"He's the kind of guy that interests me," Quade said. "His strikeouts aren't that big of a concern to me as long as his power numbers stay up. I'd like to see more of him before I get too carried away."

The Solar Sox are currently 3-5 in head-to-head play. The league is celebrating its 20th season this year and when Fall League rosters were announced in late August, over 45 players from last year's AFL crop had gone on to serve in the major leagues in 2006.

"The Fall League has become such a big deal," Quade said. "In years past, you were sending guys to Venezuela or the Dominican Republic. You didn't send that many to the Fall League, but with all these winter league's now, it's more of a chance to improve and practice, and do all the stuff we try to do to help guys get better."

"There's no substitute for getting at-bats and playing the game."

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