Former Texas Tech baseball star Josh Jung is off to a hot start as he begins his professional career in the Texas Rangers’ farm system.
Josh Jung has begun his professional career in the same way he finished his time as a Red Raider; by being a star at the plate. Thus far, he is hitting .500 with a homer and three RBI after his first two games with the Texas Rangers’ Arizona League team following a junior season in which he helped the Texas Tech baseball team reach the College World Series for the second-consecutive year.
Jung began his professional debut by launching a two-run homer to left-center in his first at-bat Wednesday night. Making the moment even more special was the fact that his college head coach, Tim Tadlock, was on hand to witness the moment and record it for us to enjoy.
Entering this year’s draft, many scouts questioned Jung’s ability to become a power hitter in the major leagues despite the fact that he crushed 33 long-balls at Texas Tech. Much of that skepticism centered around the fact that he did not pull the ball much in college.
Hitting opposite-field homers with the metal bats used by the NCAA is far easier than muscling a ball over the right-field fence with a wooden bat. But Jung’s decision to go the other way was often in response to the way he was being pitched as opposing teams were careful not to give him pitches he could turn on.
What’s more, Jung is a consummate student of the game and his understanding of situational hitting far exceeds that of most players his age. Therefore, he knew that often the game called for him to put the ball in play by choking up on the bat and going with the pitch that was thrown in order to move the runners or drive home a man from third.
By yanking his first homer to left field, Jung shoed that he indeed does have an ability to turn on a ball and get it out of the park. Though, we must keep in mind that this is the Arizona Rookie League where the pitching can be suspect and where the balls carry well in the light desert air.
“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” Said Texas Ranger’s director of scouting Kip Fagg to MLB.com when discussing the decision to draft Jung. “That’s what we see with Josh.”
Jung went on to finish his debut going 3-4 with a homer, two singles, three RBI, and three runs scored. He hit third in the lineup and played his natural position in the field, third base.
Interestingly, he put the ball in play all four times but only once did he go the opposite way. He had a single to center in his second plate appearance and a single to right in his third. He finished the day by lining out to center field.
Thursday, Jung went 1-4 with a single, a walk, a strikeout and a double-play grounder in his second game in Arizona. Through two games, his slugging percentage sits at an impressive .875 and his on-base percentage is at .566.
Drafted No. 8 overall by the Rangers last month, Jung is the highest pick in the Tim Tadlock era of the program and only the second Red Raider taken in the first round joining Donald Harris, who was taken No. 5 overall by Texas in 1989.
Last week, he signed a $4.4 million contract thus beginning his journey to what we can only hope is a long career in the Major Leagues. And given that he is playing for the Rangers, which is the most popular MLB team among the Texas Tech fan base, there’s no doubt that everyone in scarlet and black will be keeping an eye on his progress.