Texas top prospect Jung set to debut tonight

September 9th, 2022

ARLINGTON -- The Josh Jung Era in Arlington will get underway tonight. The Rangers' No. 1 prospect, and No. 39 overall per MLB Pipeline, will make his big league debut, batting seventh and playing third base.

Utilityman Brad Miller was added to the injured list with a hip injury to make room on the active roster.

Jung has torn up the Minors since the San Antonio native was drafted eighth overall by the Rangers out of Texas Tech in 2019, hitting .311/.381/.539 with 30 homers and 118 RBIs in 152 Minor League games. He entered Spring Training this season with a shot at making the Opening Day roster, but late-February surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder took him out of the running.

Despite that setback, Jung returned quicker than expected and was able to start fielding soon after, something that was not considered to be a guarantee.

He made his Minors season debut on July 28, playing eight games in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League before moving up to Triple-A Round Rock, where he hit .274/.317/.526 with six homers in 22 games.

"Josh is doing everything he can," general manager Chris Young said during the Rangers' last homestand. "He’s played [16] games in Triple-A and he’s performing well, but [16] games doesn't expose you to everything you're going to see at this level. We want to make sure that he continues to progress. But he's doing great, and my anticipation is that it will happen at some point -- but we're not there yet."

The Rangers seem to be there now -- it just took a few more games to get to that point.

Jung, whose younger brother Jace was drafted 12th overall by Detroit in July, should settle in at third base in the Majors alongside offseason signings Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, giving Rangers fans a glimpse of the infield of the future.

Young said that the Rangers weren’t worried about exhausting Jung’s rookie eligibility, but it’s not something they’ll likely have to worry about at this point anyway. With the season ending on Oct. 5, Jung won’t reach the 45-day threshold. He isn’t expected to reach 130 at-bats, either. 

Of note, Jung’s callup would have bigger implications for other prospects currently in the big leagues, specifically Ezequiel Duran and Bubba Thompson, as the coaching staff and front office expects Jung to play everyday at third base.

Duran, one of four prospects acquired in 2021’s Joey Gallo Trade Deadline deal with the Yankees, made his MLB debut on June 4 and entered play Wednesday hitting .240/.282/.373 through 57 big league games, mostly playing third base. Thompson made his debut on Aug. 4, and has slashed .283/.333/.326 in 29 games while playing left and center field. 

Duran has the versatility to play multiple positions in the infield and outfield, but Thompson’s emergence as a potential everyday left fielder who gets on base often creates a road block of sorts, with Leody Taveras manning center and Adolis García in right.

"Josh is considered to be a third baseman," said interim manager Tony Beasley. "So whenever that happens, we'll just have to figure out what fits best. I don't know what this scenario is gonna look like right now. But we'll just have to figure that out. If Josh Jung is here, he's come out here to play third base, it's no surprise. So we just have to adjust everything that entails anyone involved in that position, which is Duran right now. 

"That’s part of the dilemma. If Bubba wasn’t doing what Bubba does, it would be easy. But he is and that makes it difficult. It's a good problem to have. If we can start having these types of problems, that means we're getting better."