Written by: Jake Tweedie
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Rangers No. 1 Prospect Josh Jung 3B – Hickory Crawdads (A Full)
22 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’2″ 215lbs – ETA 2022
Josh Jung was drafted in the 1st Round (8th Overall) in 2019, coming out of Texas Tech University (TX.). The Rangers sent him to AZL Rangers, before making the promotion to Hickory Crawdads (A Full). He did receive a call-up to the Major League roster in February 2020 but never played a game.
Jung debuted at AZL Rangers in 2019, making just 4 appearances in a very brief spell at Rookie ball. He moved to Hickory Crawdads the week after and spent the rest of the season there.
Despite being built to be a power-hitter, he struggled to maximize his full potential in Hickory. In the 2 seasons before he was drafted, he hit 27 HRs at Texas Tech. This wasn’t translated into pro ball, but there seemed to be more emphasis on making contact than swinging for the fences.
Although this didn’t allow him to have many XBHs or HRs, he demonstrates one of the purest hitting abilities in the Rangers system. If he can continue to make clean contact with the ball, but add some more pop, then he should reach 20-25 HRs a season.
His fielding ability isn’t the best, but his above-average arm and athleticism allow him to make plays, whilst his bat has the potential to play up to the position. He made just 2 errors in 2019, showing how reliable he can be.
Jung has one of the cleanest swings and purest of contacts in the Rangers’ system. Regularly making contact with the ball, his .287 batting average at Hickory was his worst season to date. This shows the talents that he has when at the plate. He maintains his discipline and doesn’t allow himself to swing at pitches out of the zone.
Jung batted .343 with 33 HRs in 3 seasons at Texas Tech. Despite his size and potential raw power, he doesn’t sell himself out. He focuses on making clean contact with the ball.
His clean action, as well as upper-body rotation, allows his arms to swing the bat through the ball with force. The lack of lower-body movement helps him stay in control of the strike zone. Although this means he can be quite static, his big reach allows him to swing through the bulk of the zone.
He has a small kick before his action that allows his body to shift his momentum smoothly and help the movement of his hips.
His controlled approach in College saw him barrel the ball regularly, thus leading to multiple XBHs and HRs. He was impressive in College and was a player that not only hit for average but had a strong OPS to match it. His 1.129 OPS and 1.109 OPS in his 2018 and 2019 seasons showed that he was hitting the ball regularly, but doing so with an end product on a consistent basis.
Being signed for $4.4m, Josh Jung had plenty to live up to in his first season in pro ball. Although he didn’t light up the South Atlantic League, his batting average stayed impressive and he was as disciplined as he was in College.
His first hit for Hickory Crawdads showed exactly that. Despite his movement at the plate before the pitch, he kept the same principle with waiting for the pitch before using his upper-body to hit through the ball.
There was a big drop in his power, but his contact stayed consistently clean, and he regularly worked around the field.
His spray chart shows strong utilization of the field. Josh showed ability in getting on base by hitting before the outfield line, with his doubles coming in the gaps between the fielders. The way his body set up at the plate allows him to hit to the opposite field with cleaner contact due to his lack of lower-body movement and control of the zone.
There will need to be some more lower-body movement in order for him to target the pull side more regularly. Surprisingly his only HR in 2019 came from that side. If he can shift his body with some rotation then it could allow him to generate more power.
Although Josh shows promise with his contact and timing, his power wasn’t a key part of his hitting game in 2019. He had just 1 HR last season. However, there is enough potential with his frame and his contact tool to utilize his power more effectively.
From College to A ball
He hit 96 XBHs across his 3 seasons with Texas Tech but this form hasn’t been replicated as of yet in pro ball. However, Josh Jung seems to have adapted to what is required as he progresses through the system
His batted ball profile highlights two big differences even from just Rookie ball to A class. His LD% increased dramatically from 14.3% to 25.6%, his FB% increased from 21.4% to 27.2%, whilst his GB% dropped significantly from 64.3% to 47.2%.
Although this shows that more of his productivity came from hitting the ball in the air, there was less emphasis on getting the ball to the outfielders to pick up consistent singles like in Rookie ball.
There was also a shift in momentum from the pull side to the opposite field. This resulted in less focus on trying to pull the ball with power, utilizing all the field, and predominantly staying on top of his strike zone.
Lack of HRs
The dramatic shift in productivity from a HR perspective may worry people from the outside, but if you see Josh’s hits and swing there has been a clean-up of mechanics to focus on consistent contact.
He tried to get under the ball more when he stepped up to Hickory, but it didn’t change much in terms of the end product. His loud contact and high exit velocities show he has the power potential, but 2021 will need to see a focus on utilizing this in-game on a regular basis.
His power potential could see him reach double-digit HRs with the right development, but there is plenty of potential for regular XBHs due to the way he can drive the ball hard and with clean contact.
Josh is a below-average runner on the basepaths. He will never be a SB threat, but his quickness in terms of footwork and mobility allows him to make plays effectively.
Defense: 45/50 – Arm: 55/55
Defensively he is utilized due to his athleticism and instincts. At Texas Tech he moved to shortstop but lacks the quickness to last there permanently.
He only made 2 errors at pro ball level, but he has a long way to go when thinking of the best 3B fielders in the MLB.
He has an above-average arm, that allows him to make plays from the corner position. His bat plays up to the position, and his big frame certainly helps that, but there will need to be more productivity from a HR perspective to be a dominant 3B.
Summary – Josh Jung 50 FV:
Josh Jung had a productive yet busy year in 2019. He played at College level with Texas Tech, before being drafted to the Rangers and reaching A Class. There were further developments in 2020 when he was called up by the Rangers. Despite not making an appearance in the Majors, there is every possibility he will be used sporadically in 2021.
There are still a few areas that need work to reach his maximum potential, especially his power component, but he has the hit tool to cause problems and just needs that bit extra moving forward.
His 2021 season could be an exciting one, largely in part due to the Rangers giving Majors time to plenty of prospects. With all the uncertainty surrounding the organization and what they will do in the Summer, Josh could become a key part of the 2021 roster.
Overall, Josh Jung is an exciting talent and has the tools, and potential, to be the next big thing for the Rangers.
You can read the rest of the Rangers Top 20 Prospects HERE