PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - Nine former Stone Crabs players are enjoying their first Major League Spring Training in Port Charlotte after being invited to camp by the Tampa Bay Rays. Reporting to Charlotte Sports Park two weeks before their minor league brethren, the select group of former Stone Crabs are doing their best to take advantage of the opportunity.
"It's been amazing," former Stone Crabs shortstop Lucius Fox said. "It's been a dream come true. Ever since I signed, I just wanted to be a Major Leaguer. Getting this first taste and seeing their work ethic, I'm just enjoying the whole experience and I'm taking in as much as I can and learning as much as I can."
Fox and left-handed pitcher Dalton Moats have been doing their best to learn as much as possible from their Rays teammates.
"It has been amazing so far," Moats said. "I'm just trying to take it all in and gather as much information as I can because, I mean, this is my first and hopefully not my last."
Moats has made the most of his opportunities to pitch against Major League competition, turning in 3.1 scoreless innings over four appearances for Tampa Bay. He cited his time with the Stone Crabs and improved changeup as big reasons for his success.
"Working with (Stone Crabs pitching coach) Doc (Watson), he was really good in helping me develop myself and work with my other pitches, and just being part of a good team," Moats said. "I think that helped me grow as an individual."
Fox has gone 6-for-13 to begin his time in Major League camp, driving in the game-winning run in the Rays' February 28 win over the Minnesota Twins.
"I've been working with Willy (Adames) and Andrew Velazquez on some footwork stuff and the little things about the game so I would be in the right place to make a play," Fox said. "I'm improving my game little by little. It's not just how to field a ground ball or how to hit, it's where to be on a cut or certain plays throughout the game. I'm just thankful to be here."
Fox, too, spoke glowingly about his time in Port Charlotte, where he hit .282 over 89 games for the Stone Crabs in 2018.
"I would say (I grew the most) defensively - having that confidence to make every play," he said." With the Stone Crabs, I feel like I did a good job and I worked hard every day and did early work. I paid close attention to my footwork. I feel like it paid off."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.