As he continues his professional career in the Texas Rangers’ minor league system, former Texas Tech baseball great Josh Jung has now moved into the top 100 prospects in all of baseball.
Josh Jung may be the best Texas Tech baseball player of all time. Now, he’s one of the top 100 prospects in the game after just over a year in the Texas Rangers’ minor league system.
According to the website Lonestarball.com, the third baseman is now the No. 99 prospect in all of Major League Baseball according to Baseball America, the premier publication for minor league information and prospect rankings.
Jung was the No. 8 pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, the second-highest any Red Raider has ever been selected. He trails only Donald Harris, an outfielder who was selected No. 5 overall in 1989, also by the Rangers.
As a Red Raider, Jung was a three-year starter who skipped his senior season. While in Lubbock, he hit .348 with 181 RBI and 33 homers. And with the glove, he proved to be one of the best fielding infielders in program history even making the move from third to shortstop in 2019.
Now, he’s climbing through Texas’ minor league system rather quickly despite the fact that there was no minor league season this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. He’s spent the summer as part of the Rangers’ 60-man player pool, a collection of players that each team is allowed to have on hand to continue working out this season in case the big league club needs to call them up in the wake of a COVID-19 outbreak. And it seems like the organization is very high on the Red Raider great.
Back in April, Rangers assistant general manager for player development Mike Daly gave this update on Jung to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News: “Josh is an intelligent and highly skilled hitter with big-time drive. In 2019 he got over 500 plate appearances between Texas Tech and his time with the Rangers. Playing that much — especially when he joined the organization — was key because it helped Josh recognize focus areas for his first offseason. He invested a ton of time on his own and with our hitting coaches learning how to properly pull the ball and continue his growth as a multi-dimensional hitter.”
Last season, at Single-A Hickory, Jung hit .287 with a homer and 23 RBI in 40 games as he got his feet wet in the professional ranks. In 179 plate appearances, he struck out only 29 times.
But he needs to show the ability to hit for more power if he is going to become an everyday Major League corner infielder. That was one of the concerns scouts had about him during his time at Tech, especially given that a huge number of his homers were to the opposite field, something that is tougher to do in the professional game because of the use of wooden bats.
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“Jung was seen as someone who was fairly polished and who could move quickly, with the main question about him being his power,” writes Adam J. Morris of LonestarBall.com. “Jung did not display a ton of game power in college, although the thinking by some prognosticators was that some minor adjustments could allow him to elevate and drive the ball more, making him a potential 60 hit/60 power guy at third base.
What’s working in Jung’s favor right now is that there is a need for a true third baseman of the future to emerge in Arlington. In fact, the Rangers are also looking for their future first baseman as well being as they recently traded veteran Todd Frazier to the New York Mets and being as Ronald Guzman continues to struggle at the plate in his opportunities with the big league club.
While the plan for Jung has always been at third base, either corner infield position could be his future home. Right now, the Rangers have Isaiah Kiner-Falefa as their primary third baseman. He’s hitting .301 this year but he has just two homers to his name in 2020 and only seven in his three-year career. Power numbers so scant makes many believe that his future in Texas is as a utility infielder who can spell every infield position.
Certainly, one would like to think that Jung could put up greater power stats than two homers and a .397 slugging percentage (as Kiner-Falefa’s numbers read this year) once he gets his shot in the majors. And if he continues to climb through the Rangers’ system, that shout could come as soon as next season.