Saturday, May 23, 2015

Veteran Fox leaves affiliated ball to fulfill dream in Korea

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Fox with Reading in 2014, image- Tug Haines
Local minor league fans may have been surprised not to see former Phillies farm hand Jake Fox visiting with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in Reading this week. The faithful Jake Fox Nation barely had enough time to catch on to which organization the veteran had jumped to this season, before Fox switched teams again, ditching the States for Korea.

The 32-year-old is the type of player that makes and keeps fans where ever he goes. A one-time 3rd round draft pick of the Cubs, Fox made it to the majors in Chicago and with Baltimore. He has also played in the Dominican Winter League as well as in Mexico, where he was nicknamed "El Sangre" (The Blood), and in the independent Atlantic League. All the while, he's made fans that root for him no matter what uniform he dons, as they travel to see him in different cities when they can.

During his second stint with the Phillies' organization last year, the Indiana native posted a .308/.373/.591 slash line in 78 games with Double-A Reading.

With numbers worthy of a promotion and failure by the Phils to deliver one, Fox saw a higher ceiling elsewhere and decided to sign with Toronto over the off-season despite the Phillies wanting him back.

Fox was always focused on climbing back to the majors, however, playing in Asia was something Fox wanted to do before his days on the diamond were over. He kept the lines of communication open, hoping to play in Korea or Japan for the past couple years. Lucky for Fox, a team in Korea, the Hanwha Eagles, was interested so much that they bought out his contract with the Blue Jays.

"We came to terms toward the end of last week," Fox explained over e-mail this week. "I was on a plane Saturday morning and arrived in Daejeon Sunday evening. I am very happy to be here and look forward to learning a new culture and style of baseball."

Fox, a cerebral slugger, is known to play games in the locker room like chess and spades, which force players to have a plan and think ahead.  He picks apart opposing pitchers' mental approach, steadily analyzing.  He has traveled internationally to experience different styles of the game.  The six-foot tall 220-pounder thrives on challenges and a challenge that has escaped him until recently was competing in Asia.

A challenge that has escaped him until recently was competing in Asia.

"The reason I have been trying to play here is...this is the only place I have not played in my career and I want to be able to say I have played everywhere this game has to offer when my career is done. I can truly say that I have played baseball at any and every level this game can offer," Fox said.

Often praised for being a teacher of the game, Fox, who regularly gets credit from his teammates as being like an extra coach, feels the experience playing overseas will assist with his anticipated career after his playing days are through.

"I hope to stay in the game in some capacity when I am done (playing) and I hope this experience will allow me to be well rounded in dealing with players. Not only will it give me a different perspective on how the game is played, it will allow me to identify and understand any player I may deal with in the future."

Fox, who debuted with the Eagles on Thursday after a short stint with their minor league team, going 2-for-4 with two RBI and a remarkable diving catch in his initial game for the Eagles, is already loving the new league.

"The baseball here is very good and the fans are extremely energetic," Fox explained. "I have never played in an atmosphere as electric as this. The games are a lot of fun and every day feels like game seven. I am having a great time so far and I look forward to seeing where this path may take me."
For this latest journey, Fox is regularly updating his Facebook page in order for the his legions of fans across the globe can keep tabs on him. Link here.
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