Top 50 Prospects: #31 - Ben Cox

When the Giants started dumping players unceremoniously in trades last fall, people didn't pay much attention. But you might have missed one live arm with a lot of potential that fell in the Giants laps from Washington.

#31 - Ben Cox
Date of Birth: 09/20/1981 Position: P Height: 6'2" Weight: 210 Bats: L Throws: R
Acquired: Traded from the Nationals for Deivi Cruz in 2005
Originally Drafted by the Expos in the 19th Round (564 Overall) of the 2004 Draft
2005 Stats
Savannah - Low A 4 4 3.00 42 0 6 63.0 55 24 21 6 33 51 .234 0.67
San Jose - High A 0 0 4.91 2 0 0 3.2 3 3 2 1 1 6 .214 1.50

The Giants like power arms, and have shown a propensity to find them in unlikely places and make the most out of them, which is why the result of the Deivi Cruz trade is slightly more interesting than ‘ho-hum.’ Ben Cox was who the Giants got, and he mostly raised a couple of eyebrows and was dismissed by most observers, but the Giants could make something out of him.

Cox was a 19th round selection by the then-Expos in the 2004 draft, coming out of Lamar University with an unspectacular record and more walks than strikeouts. In the NYPL, he showed some potential, appearing in 22 games, and picking up 3 saves with a 2-0 record while keeping a 2.97 ERA and 20 BB vs. 37 SO in 33.1 innings. It was still too many walks, but it was lower. He dropped his walk rate and hit rate even lower in 2005, keeping the ERA at 3.00 in the SAL with the Nationals system before getting hit in two appearances at San Jose after the trade.

Essentially, what the Giants got is a guy with a live arm who doesn’t get hit hard, but who does have the propensity of hurting himself with walks. Cox has two good pitches, when he has control of them: a mid-to-high 90’s fastball and a slow slider in the low 80’s. There’s plenty to work with there.

The walks haven’t hurt Cox so far like one might think they would, since he’s been able to maintain a low ERA for most of his short pro career. That could always change. More concerning is the home runs, as he gave up 7 in 66.2 IP overall in 2005. These come mostly because he can start trying to groove pitches down the middle when his control wavers.

Cox could go either way in San Jose next year. A propensity for home runs is usually exploitable in the heavy hitting California League, but on the other hand, his power arm might play well and he is hard to hit when he’s not grooving fastballs. Assuming Trevor Wilson remains the pitching coach in San Jose, Cox is the sort of kid he might be able to work wonders with, teaching not just how to throw, but how to pitch. Cox’s control is the only thing holding him back. If he gets a hold of his stuff, his power arm could shoot through the system like Accardo, and he’d profile well as a power setup man.

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