Rangers pick 2 third basemen on Day 1 of Draft

Jung, Wendzel Big 12 Players of the Year; Garcia Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year

June 4th, 2019

ARLINGTON -- Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said before the 2019 MLB Draft that third base was a position of weakness within their farm system. The Rangers addressed that immediately on Monday night when they used their first two picks to draft third basemen.

Turns out, they are both quite familiar with each other.

The Rangers started out by using the eighth overall pick to take Texas Tech third baseman Josh Jung.

“Just being drafted in general is a dream come true,” Jung said. “Getting to play college ball and being good enough to be drafted in the first round is pretty special. Also, [being drafted] by the Rangers and staying in Texas, that’s pretty special. We are really excited.”

There still is some unfinished business. The Red Raiders have advanced to the Super Regional level of the NCAA Tournament with the goal of returning to the College World Series. Once the Red Raiders’ season is over, the Rangers expect no issues in coming to terms with Jung. His slot value is set at $5,176,000.

“Very excited,” Rangers scouting director Kip Fagg said. “Very good hitter, very good defender, very good kid. We are very excited to get Josh.”

Jung shared 2019 Big 12 Player of the Year honors with Baylor third baseman Davis Wendzel, and they will soon have more in common. The Rangers took Wendzel with the 41st overall pick, which they acquired from the Brewers in a trade for pitcher Alex Claudio at the ‘18 Winter Meetings.

Fagg said the Rangers did not set out to draft two third basemen, and he does not see any issues selecting two college players at the same position. Third base had been a weak spot in their farm system before this draft.

“We’ll figure that out,” Fagg said. “We take the best player. That’s what we do. Positionally, we’ll figure it out. I trust our development staff to put these guys in the best position to help us out as fast as they can. It’s not an issue.”

The Rangers used their second round pick (No. 50) to take right-handed pitcher Ryan Garcia from UCLA. He was the 2019 Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year.

Jung, who played at MacArthur High School in San Antonio, is the first college position player taken by the Rangers with their first overall pick since first baseman Justin Smoak out of South Carolina in 2008. Jung is also the first college player taken first by the Rangers since pitcher Dillon Tate from UC Santa Barbara in ’15.

Fagg said the selection of Jung does not mean a shift in the Rangers’ draft philosophy. They considered Jung the best player available at the eighth spot, even though they had looked hard at Arizona State outfielder Hunter Bishop and West Virginia pitcher Alek Monoah, among others.

“For me, I have always been on Josh,” Fagg said. “Seen him for a few years now, and has always been an exciting player for me and the guys in our group.”

At the plate, through 57 games, Jung is hitting .340 (72-for-212) with 11 home runs, 53 RBI, a .478 on-base percentage and a .608 slugging percentage. He was just as good as a sophomore in leading the Red Raiders to a trip to the College World Series. He hit .392 over 65 games with 12 home runs, 80 RBIs, a .491 on-base percentage and .639 slugging percentage.

Jung didn’t have the same power numbers as Bishop and some others, but he is considered a pure hitter. Fagg said the power will come in time.

“I think you see the history of some college hitters, that are hitters first and they get to the big leagues and they have power,” Fagg said. “That’s what we see with Josh.”

Jung comes from a baseball background. His father Jeff is an assistant baseball coach at San Antonio MacArthur, and is younger brother Jace is following in his footsteps there.

Injuries to others have forced Jung to play shortstop for the Red Raiders lately, but the Rangers still see him at third base because of a skill-set that includes good hands, nimble feet and a strong throwing arm.

“I love playing in the infield and I love playing on the left side, so wherever they put me, that’s great,” Jung said. “I think they drafted me as a third baseman, and I’m okay with that. I love playing third base, love being in the hot corner. I can’t wait.”

Wendzel played in 46 games for the Bears and hit .367 (65-177) with eight home runs, 42 RBI, a .484 on-base percentage and .610 slugging percentage. He also stole 11 bases.

Fagg called Wendzel a “true” baseball player with talent on both sides of the ball. Wendzel grew up in Southern California, but his family has moved to Texas and he considers himself a true Texan now. He is not daunted by being drafted behind Jung.

“It’s awesome,” Wendzel said. “He’s a great player. We’ll both add a lot to the Rangers. I can play anywhere they want on the field -- shortstop, second, anywhere in the outfield. I can play anywhere and I will hit.”

Garcia pitched in 14 games, including 12 starts, for the Bruins and was 10-0 with a 1.39 ERA. He struck out 107 batters in 84 1/3 innings. Garcia did so after missing the first three weeks of the season with inflammation in his flexor tendon.

“He is a unique style,” Fagg said. “He’s got tons of swing-and-miss pitches, plus fastball, plus breaking ball, very good changeup, throws a ton of strikes. They don’t hit this guy, they don’t see the ball. We were very excited about that.”

The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET. Go to MLB.com/Draft for complete coverage, including every pick on Draft Tracker, coverage and analysis from MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft and @MLBDraftTracker on Twitter.