Welcome to the Detroit Tigers organization, Jace Jung.
General Manager Al Avila made the 21-year-old infielder from Texas Tech the No. 12 overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft.
The main appeal with Jung is his bat. The lefty’s career slash line of .328/.468/.647 in the Big 12 is scintillating, and he drew more walks than strikeouts in all three of his seasons with the Red Raiders. He won the 2021 Big 12 Conference Player of the Year after slugging 21 home runs and 67 RBIs.
FanGraphs lists him as a 45 FV player and their 20th prospect in the class. MLB Pipeline is a bit more gracious, listing Jung as their #9 prospect with a 60 overall grade. Kiley McDaniel at ESPN, as well as Baseball America were in the middle ground.
Listed at 6-foot and 200 pounds, he’s bigger than a typical second baseman, but without the range to play shortstop and a bit of a stretch at third in terms of arm strength. Look for him to stick at second or potentially move to first base or even a corner outfield spot eventually.
His offensive upside as a college bat — especially with his ability to control the strike zone — make Jung a relatively low-risk pick. He's an extremely polished hitter that pitchers were avoiding later in his junior year. Despite something of a wacky upright stance, he’s able to hit the ball where it’s thrown and utilize the entire field, hitting balls out from foul pole to foul pole.
Jung joins a handful of other picks in the 2022 class with having family ties in baseball — his older brother, Josh, was taken eighth overall by the Texas Rangers in 2019.
A consensus first-rounder by most mock drafts, FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen nailed the selection. Various other mocks had him going as high at 10th overall and as low as 23rd. BYB’s Jacob Markle highlighted some of the recent mocks that had Jung landing in Detroit.
Jung joins recent first round picks Jackson Jobe (No. 3), Spencer Torkelson (No. 1), Riley Greene (No. 5) and Casey Mize (No. 1) in the Tigers’ system. The latter three have all cracked the major leagues, though only Greene is currently on the MLB roster. Torkelson was demoted hours before the draft and Mize underwent Tommy John surgery in June. Jung is likely to slot into the team’s prospect rankings behind Jobe as the soon-to-be #2 prospect once Greene graduates.
The Tigers will have one more pick on Day 1 of the Draft on Sunday night. They will select 51st overall in the second round.