Luke Fox didn’t join the Duke baseball program as a big-time prospect. In his first two years at Duke, the left-handed pitcher saw time as a starter and reliever, even pitching at times as the team’s closer last year.
Fox, a Waukesha, Wisconsin native, made strides in his development in his first two years. He showed potential and figured to lead Duke’s starting rotation this year. Professional scouts also had Fox on their radar in preparation for July’s MLB draft.
But this season hasn’t gone as Fox anticipated. He underwent Tommy John surgery in the fall after a forearm strain he suffered late in his sophomore season and never fully recovered through rehab.
Fox is in the early stages of his recovery process. He feels good and is progressing but estimates he won’t face hitters until next spring, he said. In the meantime, Fox has rehabbed, supported his teammates and dealt with draft attention this spring.
Scouts remain intrigued by Fox and his potential. He projects as a starter in pro ball due to his quality three-pitch mix and athleticism on the mound. He could turn pro this summer or elect to return to Duke for another year.
“It’s been a good experience getting to talk to these scouts and hear what they have to say about what my development should like and what the recovery process might look like, as well as what they think I can do better,” Fox said. “I think that has been really important. It has been tough not being able to change my stock on the day to day. What I’ve got is what I’ve got, and I can’t change that.”
When healthy, Fox is a 6-foot-2, 200-pound left-handed pitcher who throws a fastball, knuckle curveball and changeup from a low three-quarters arm slot. His delivery and arm slot lead to deception, making it difficult for hitters to pick up the ball until he releases the pitch.
Fox’s low-to-mid-90s fastball features movement and regularly generates ground balls and swings and misses. His curveball appears more like a slider due to Fox’s arm slot and movement, and it serves as his strikeout pitch.
In his time at Duke, Fox’s changeup has improved the most. It tunnels well off of his fastball and features late-breaking movement.
“My changeup is my favorite pitch to throw,” Fox said. “I’ve always loved toying with the changeup grip and figuring out how to make it move the way it does. It’s been the hardest pitch to develop, I’d say, and find the consistency. After putting all that time into that pitch, it makes it really fun to throw.”
Fox’s three-pitch mix has the potential to be above-average with continued refinement. One of his biggest strengths is his athleticism, which helps him with his mechanics and delivery on the mound.
Fox was a four-sport athlete at Catholic Memorial (Wis.) High School. He participated in baseball, basketball, track and field, and football, where he led Catholic Memorial to back-to-back state titles as the team’s quarterback in his junior and senior seasons. He credits his experience as a multisport athlete for his exceptional athleticism on the baseball diamond.
“It’s the athleticism,” said Fox on his biggest strength. “I always go back to that. I think I have a really unique athletic background that not a lot of people have anymore. It allows me to adapt and compete in ways that others might not be able to.”
As an underclassman at Duke, Fox posted a 4.74 ERA with 142 strikeouts and 47 walks allowed in 108 1/3 innings in his first two years.
Fox figured to lead Duke’s starting rotation this spring. Instead, he has rehabbed and supported his teammates as they compete on the field. Duke boasts a 34-17 record and is in a position to qualify for the NCAA Tournament this spring after falling short of the tournament last year.
Recovering from Tommy John surgery has changed Fox’s perspective on the game, he said. He is pleased with the progress he has made during the rehab process as he works his way back to pitching off a mound again.
“I want to take advantage of this time I have now to add strength and mobility off of the mound,” Fox said. “This is a really good chance for me to strengthen my explosiveness rotationally where I can add velo and consistency to that velo on that mound. As well as adding to the consistency patterns of my mechanics.”
Want to learn more about Luke Fox? Listen to my interview with him for The Baseball Prospect Journal Podcast here.
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Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for eight years. He has interviewed 433 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com, The Arizona Republic and The Dallas Morning News, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.