Arizona Fall League Update: October 18

Jake Fox was figuring on being home this fall, but suddenly, he finds himself in Arizona facing some of the best prospects that baseball has to offer. Fox is just one of the hot contingent of Cubs prospects spending their fall in the Arizona sunshine. Plus, updates on the Phillies players in the AFL and Ryan Howard's chase for yet another league MVP.

"I was about to go home."

That's Jake Fox talking. One of the youngest players in the Arizona Fall League at just 21, Fox was a little surprised when he got the call telling him he was on his way to the AFL.

"I was finished up down in the Instructional League, and they gave me a call and told me there was an injury and they needed another catcher down here, so yeah, it was kind of a shock."

Fox had a great year for the Lansing Lugnuts of the (Low A) Midwest League, hitting .287 with 14 homers and 55 RBI in just 366 at bats, and thus was tapped to join fellow Cubs catching prospect Geovany Soto on the Mesa Solar Sox of the AFL.

The Cubs have truly sent the cream of their crop to the AFL, along with Fox and Soto top position prospect Brian Dopirak and top pitching prospect Jae Kuk Ryu are on the Solar Sox. For a youngster like Fox intimidation could set in, but Fox takes it all in stride.

"It's funny because I'm actually older than all those guys, even though they are higher up in the organization. I guess I was a little nervous when I first got here, just because I wasn't expecting it, but now I'm a lot more comfortable."

The focus, as it often is in AFL for catchers, is on defense. "You always want to hit, but down here I'm really working on my footwork behind the plate. I'm just trying to carry over what I was working on in the instructional league, and get better everyday."

He is out at the park early, everyday. He is talking to the coaches, everyday. He is learning, everyday. "This is a huge opportunity for me, for everybody down here. It's a stepping stone, an opportunity for me to extend my season, and that's what everybody down here is looking for. I'm just trying to take advantage of it."

Phillies in the desert: Chris Roberson now has five hits in his last nine at bats and has pushed his average to the .333 mark for Phoenix…Ryan Howard got a well deserved day off, with Buzz Hannahan filling in for him at first base. Hannahan took an 0-for-4 collar and is now hitting .238 this fall. Howard's day off allowed players to tie him in the home run race and RBI race. Howard and Chris Shelton (Tigers) both have three homeruns, while Shelton and Ryan Garko (Indians) share the RBI leadership with Howard; each have ten RBI. Howard's .441 average is good enough for third in the league. Shelton leads the league with a .520 mark.…Keith Bucktrot was impressive in his start on Saturday. Bucktrot threw four innings, allowing three hits and two walks. He didn't pick up any strikeouts, but he didn't allow any runs either. Bucktrot has now thrown seven shutout innings in two AFL starts…Dan Giese came on in relief and threw 1 1/3 shutout innings, allowing two hits and picking up a strikeout. Giese lowered his ERA to 2.84 after five appearances, covering 6 1/3 innings.

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