Prospect Spotlight: Jace Jung
What if I told you a story, long ago, of a prospect that would move quickly through the minor leagues, maybe troubled by injuries, but with lots of potential. Now this prospect shined as a hitter, batting .326/.398/.592 and launching 19 home runs in 88 games between Double-A and Triple-A. This talent would endure more injuries, but alas, he found his hold and helped the Texas Rangers win a World Series title. In the process, he would have his most productive professional season, with 515 plate appearances, hitting 23 home runs in only 122 games, and a wRC+ of 110 as a rookie. In the fantasy baseball world, that would be hitting a home run. Maybe just clearing the fence, but a home run nonetheless. Well, this story isn’t about the player who made a great impression in 2023 as a rookie, no no, this is about his brother.
Jace Jung was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2022, out of Texas Tech University. He would hit .335/.481/.612 his last year in college. He was a complete hitter with a knack for hitting home runs, as he compiled 21 and 14 of them his last 2 seasons there. He was ready to hit the ground running in pro ball, but it didn’t happen. Starting out at High-A, he would hit just .230/.373/.333, to go along with only one home run in 30 games. It wasn’t all bad, as his high on-base percentage showed he had good plate discipline. His strikeout and walk rates followed suit, showing the plate discipline was shining despite the low batting average. He ended the year walking 18.7% of the time and striking out at a 20.9% rate. It wasn’t sunshine and rainbows, but he got a taste of pro ball and had an idea of what he needed to improve on.
Starting the season in 2023, Jung was assigned to High-A again and there were dramatic improvements in his profile. The power really began to shine through once more, as it did at Texas Tech. In 81 games, he would hit 15 home runs, increasing his ISO from .102 to .211. After the 81 games, the Detroit Tigers moved him up to Double-A, where he improved even more. In just 47 games, he would hit 14 home runs to finish the season. His ISO jumped again, this time up to .279. This came with an outstanding triple slash line of. 284/.373/.563 and an OPS of .936. He was absolutely outstanding as his wRC+ was a mammoth 154. Even with moving up to Double-A, he maintained his plate discipline, as he walked 11% of the time and struck out at a 26.8% rate. He was showing the complete hitting package with top end power, while improving when moving up levels.
In 2024, Jung could be a monster for fantasy teams. He might not be the good hitter his brother is, but his power numbers can be even better. He will most likely start out at Triple-A, but he may force his way into the Tigers lineup very quickly. The Tigers are going into 2024 with several question marks in the infield and outfield. Someone like Jung could be a huge boost to their lineup, but they won’t force the issue. How he comes out in the minors in 2024, will most likely dictate any real possibility for a 2024 fantasy impact. If he starts slow, the Tigers probably won’t see it as advantageous to force him into the major league lineup. All the ingredients are there though, for him to make an impact when he does get to the big leagues. Monster power, good plate discipline, and open playing time at many positions. Maybe he won’t win a World Series in his rookie year, but when he does come up, expect him to have an impact in fantasy baseball, just like his brother Josh did. It runs in the family.