MLB Draft Profile: Jace Jungby Andersen Pickard May 30, 2022 1 comment
The 2022 MLB Draft will begin on July 17, 2022. We take a look at Jace Jung, a bat-first infielder from Texas Tech who has followed in the footsteps of his older brother.
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Jace Jung, 2B/3B, Texas Tech
Weight: 205 lbs.
Stats: 57 G, .340/.487/.636, 14 HR, 56 RBI, 58 BB, 38 K
Jung found his way to Texas Tech as he replaced his brother, Josh, who was drafted by the Texas Rangers. After starting a bit slow out of the gate from an offensive standpoint, he quickly found his groove and hasn’t looked back since. The younger Jung prioritizes offensive production, showing an impressive ability to both put the ball in play and draw more walks than strikeouts. With that said, he’s not the perfect prospect by any means. Most notably, questions abound regarding Jung’s long-term position in the infield.
Undoubtedly, hitting is Jung’s biggest strength. Despite having an unorthodox setup at the plate, he is able to generate fantastic bat speed, allowing him to hit the ball hard to all parts of the field. He’s a true pole-to-pole power hitter. Furthermore, despite boasting impressive pop, he doesn’t let this trait cause too many strikeouts. Jung has 125 walks to 98 strikeouts at Texas Tech, which speaks to the fact that he has good awareness of the zone. Additionally, on film, you can clearly see Jung’s ability to make adjustments and battle deep into the count, even if that means poking a borderline pitch foul in order to extend an at-bat.
It’s hard to find many other positives that don’t relate to Jung’s offense. He’s merely an average fielder with average speed on the basepaths. However, one trait that stands out on film is his ability to get out of the box. As soon as he makes contact, he focuses on getting his balance and turning down the first-base line. Jung’s ability to get down the line certainly benefits from both his speed out of the box and the advantage he gains from being a left-handed hitter.
Offensively, the biggest concern about Jung is his unorthodox setup. He holds his bat in a unique way, is largely vertical, and rarely takes much of a stride with his front foot. It has worked for him in college ball, but it’s fair to question if his production can be sustainable in the pros. After all, in the wood-bat Cape Cod League, Jung slashed just .219/.265/.406 with 11 strikeouts and just two walks. Scouts have to love Jung’s offensive upside, but it’s important to be aware of his potentially low floor, too.
As mentioned already, Jung doesn’t have a clear defensive position, either. His days at third base are likely over due to his below-average arm strength and insufficient accuracy. Texas Tech has deployed him at shortstop, but he won’t stick there long-term due to his lack of range. That leaves second base as the only other real option, but even then, concerns about his range persist. In addition to his subpar range, it should be noted that Jung is below-average to average on the basepaths.
Pro Comparison: Max Muncy
This comp is too easy. It’s hard not to compare Jung to Muncy, the Dodgers’ veteran infielder. Just like Jung, Muncy bats lefty, throws righty, and checks in at 6-foot tall. He, too, has a knack for drawing walks; he has logged 34 free passes compared to 37 strikeouts this season. Although his 2022 season has been temporarily halted due to injury, Muncy has consistently boasted his power, slugging at least 35 home runs in 2018, 2019, and 2021. (He finished with 12 in the shortened 2020 campaign.) All in all, Muncy is a bat-first player who hasn’t really found a defensive home. (Sound familiar?) He has primarily played third and second base, which are Jung’s two primary positions, though the 31-year-old has also occupied first base and outfield positions.
Draft Projection: Mid First Round
A lot of analysts seem to think Jung will be drafted within the first 10 picks, but that feels far from certain and perhaps a bit too extreme. Sure, he can hit. However, since there are concerns about his offensive production long-term, teams need to feel good about his defense or baserunning in order to use a prime draft selection on him. In case it isn’t clear yet, Jung doesn’t offer anything special in the form of defense or baserunning. As such, it feels likely that these concerns in Jung’s game will force him to fall to the middle portion of the first round.
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