For Rangers' Josh Jung, The Time Is Near
The question facing Josh Jung isn’t if he’s going to make his big league debut in 2022. It’s a matter of when.
Except for a foot injury that forced him to miss six weeks at the outset of 2021, the 24-year-old third baseman did just about everything right last season. His strong numbers at Double-A Frisco only improved after he was bumped to Triple-A Round Rock to finish the season.
He ended 2021 on an 18-game hitting streak that pushed his Triple-A numbers to .348/.436/.652 with nine home runs. Jung, the eighth overall pick in 2019 out of Texas Tech, doesn't appear to have much left to prove in the minor leagues.
Even though the Rangers spent like they are going to contend this season, they are still committed to making sure their best prospects have had enough development time.
Jung will compete to be the Rangers' third baseman with Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who won a Gold Glove in 2020.
“The way it looks right now, I'm going to have a Gold Glover right there in front of me,” Jung said. “And so it's like, 'OK, I’ve just got to be the best version of myself I can be.' I just can't wait for the competition, honestly.”
As of mid January, the Rangers hadn’t explicitly told Jung how well he must perform in spring training to win the job, but he needs to make the decision a no-brainer. The team dropped in on Jung at his home in Lubbock, Texas, during the offseason, and he also participated in a hitting mini-camp in December.
His advanced approach and his overall knowledge of the game continue to leave a favorable impression, along with the work ethic and openness to trying something new.
“The changes I've seen in him over the last couple of years, obviously shows he's put a ton of work in,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “But just the swing, his ability to work. It's no-nonsense. He wants the hardest work. And he's not scared. He's not shy.”
— The Rangers also held a pitching minicamp for minor leaguers in January. Many of them, including top prospect Jack Leiter, elected to stay in Arizona to continue working toward spring training. Fellow righthander Cole Winn spent the entire offseason working out in Scottsdale, Ariz.
— Outfielder Evan Carter was working out in December without any limitations after missing most of 2021 because of a stress fracture in his lower back. The 2020 second-round pick batted .236/.438/.387 in 106 at-bats for Low-A Down East