Jace Jung watched his older brother Josh, who is about three years old, develop into one of college baseball’s top players and the eighth overall pick by the Texas Rangers in the 2019 MLB draft.
Josh will likely make his major-league debut in 2022 after hitting .348 with nine home runs in 35 games at Class AAA this season. Watching and learning from his older brother has helped Jung develop into a highly talented player as well.
“He’s about to make it to the bigs, and I want to be there in a couple of years,” Jung said. “Just seeing him go through this process is awesome. You can learn second-hand instead of doing it in the moment. It makes it a lot easier because I can have someone talk to me about the game, what he did and how he overcame his struggles.”
Jung will likely follow in his brother’s footsteps as a high first-round pick in the 2022 draft. Scouts consider Jung as arguably the top college prospect and potential first overall pick in the 2022 draft.
“The draft attention is there, it’s always been there, but I just try not to think about it too much,” Jung said. “I try to stay off Twitter as much as I can and stay true to who I was coming into college. I just stick with my routine.”
Jung thrived in his first two years of college baseball. As a freshman in 2020, Jung hit .264 with four doubles, one triple, four home runs and 23 RBIs in 53 at-bats in the pandemic-shortened season.
He built on his 19-game freshman season last year when he was one of the top hitters in college baseball. As a sophomore, Jung posted a .337 batting average with 10 doubles, one triple, 21 home runs and 67 RBIs in 208 at-bats.
Jung displayed impressive plate discipline during his first two years at Texas Tech, tallying 67 walks compared to 60 strikeouts.
Jung is a 6-foot, 200-pound polished left-handed hitter with above-average skills at the plate. He has an advanced approach and hits for average and power.
Jung uses a slightly unique setup at the plate, but he manages to drive the ball with authority and use all parts of the field. He is a bat-first player.
“My offensive abilities are my biggest strength,” Jung said. “I also think my mental game is very strong. I keep myself under control during the game. No moment is ever too big.”
Defensively, Jung has mostly played second base and third base at Texas Tech. Jung emphasized developing his defensive skills in the offseason, especially with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team.
With Team USA, Jung worked with 13-year MLB veteran Troy Tulowitzki on his defensive skills. The ability to talk and learn from a Gold Glove-winning shortstop benefited Jung’s development in the field, Jung said.
Jung has average arm strength and speed. Scouts believe Jung is best suited for second base but could also handle third base in pro ball. The offseason work has paid off for Jung already this fall, he said.
“When I got back to campus, some of the coaches were like, ‘Dang, you fielding the ball looks a lot different than it did last year,'” Jung said. “Troy and I would go out there early and take 200 ground balls nonstop. Just learning from those repetitions was awesome and helpful.”
Last year, Texas Tech fell just short of advancing to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, losing in the NCAA Super Regional. Texas Tech has been one of the top teams in college baseball in recent years, qualifying for the College World Series four times since 2014.
Expectations will be high for the Red Raiders in 2022. Jung hopes to lead the program back to college baseball’s biggest stage in what will likely be his last year at Texas Tech.
“Last year, we were so close to going back to Omaha,” Jung said. “This year, we want to get back to Omaha. And you know what, let’s win the Big 12 while we are at it.”
Read all of Jace Jung’s comments on playing at Texas Tech, his skills, advice his brother has given him and what motivates him to play the game, HERE.
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for seven years. He has interviewed 356 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.