The Cleveland Guardians have a loaded farm system, there's no doubt about that. However, the team has had a very lackluster spell with their major league outfielders, and no matter who they turn to the issue seemingly cannot be fixed. If the Guardians are willing to wait, they may have a future star in the clubhouse, and he may be just a few seasons away from being a real threat in the majors. That player is outfielder Jake Fox.
Cleveland utilized their 2021 third-round pick on the then-18-year-old. To secure him, the Guardians opted to give him an over-slot bonus of $850,000 to lure him away from a commitment to play for the University of Florida. After being drafted, Fox came out swinging, literally, in the Arizona Complex League (ACL) when he slashed an impressive .405/.469/.429 to go alongside a .146 wRC+.
Although he stood out in the ACL, the clubhouse decided to place him with the Low-A Lynchburg Hillcats for the 2022-23 season. During that time, he recorded a nice .247/.381/.374 to go with 94 hits, 25 doubles, five home runs, and four triples. His 94 hits attributed to 44 RBIs, which in turn helped lead the Hillcats to the League Finals. Unfortunately, there, the team ended up losing, still marking off an impressive season.
Jumping straight from high school ball to the minors leagues seemed to not strike any nerves for the 19-year-old, giving the Guardians confidence in him moving forward.
This season, he stepped it up a notch once again, this time with the Lake County Captains, the High-A affiliate of the Guardians. So far through 72 games and 284 at-bats, he has slashed .254/.329/.377, which is just above his previous season numbers. He has already matched his number of home runs from 2022 with five, while also approaching his RBI numbers with 37.
Not only has he been thriving at the plate, but also in the outfield. With the Hillcats, he normally played as an infielder at the shortstop or second baseman positions, but then made the switch to outfield. He only played in the outfield for 31 games, but his speed and ability to track the ball made him lethal. The Captains noticed and decided to make the switch to outfield permanent.
He has primarily started as a centerfielder due to his electrifying speed, which can easily be compared to the abilities of current major leaguer, Myles Straw. His fielding percentage sits at 99%, showing extreme consistency. Fox has also been recognized for laying his body on the line for the team as he is often seen diving into the outfield walls to make a play.
So, if he is showcasing the same general fielding ability as Straw with even better batting abilites, why has he not been called up?
Since he is just now hitting the age of 20 years old, he has a few more seasons to adjust to the lights of the major league. More than likely his talents this season have helped him enough to make his way up to the Double-A Akron Rubberducks, where he has an opportunity to face slightly higher competition. This would be a stage in his career where some hiccups may occur, but could also be the catalyst for perfecting his raw ability.
The likely future sees Fox make his way to the majors in the 2025 or 2026 seasons while spending another year or two in Double or Triple-A. His speed, combined with his consistent hitting, sets the scene up nicely for the Guardians moving forward with him becoming a real contender for a major league roster spot.