News broke earlier this week that the Rangers were set to promote their top prospect, third baseman Josh Jung, to the majors in time for Friday’s game against the Blue Jays. Jung didn’t waste much time before announcing his presence with authority in front of the home Rangers fans.
Hitting seventh, Jung came to bat to lead off the bottom of the sixth. With a 1-2 count, he unleashed on a Ross Stripling offering and joined the club of players to homer in their first career at-bat:
Only Jung and Jurickson Profar (Sept. 2, 2012) have homered in their first career at-bat for the Texas Rangers. If we looped in the entire history of the franchise, which includes the second iteration of the Washington Senators, we could add Brant Ayala from 1965 and John Kennedy (no, not that one) from 1962 (via Sarah Langs).
Jung, 24, got a late start this season due to tearing his left shoulder labrum while lifting weights in spring training. He needed surgery to repair it and returned for a rehab stint in Rookie ball on July 28. In his 23 games for Triple-A Round Rock, Jung hit .273/.321/.525 with seven doubles, six homers, 24 RBI and 15 runs.
The Rangers’ first-round pick in 2019, eighth overall out of Texas Tech, Jung was a consensus top-40 prospect heading into the season. We’ve seen a litany of graduations to the majors this season, so it’s entirely possible, depending upon who you talk to, to say Jung was one of the 20 or so best prospects remaining in the minors.
The Rangers will now have just about one month to see Jung play in the majors this season before looking ahead to 2022. They signed Corey Seager and Marcus Semien to huge deals last offseason to play up the middle for the foreseeable future, while 26-year-old Nate Lowe has solidified himself at first base in improving upon his breakout 2021 season.
That is to say, Lowe, Semien, Seager and Jung looks like the infield of the future for the Rangers. It was off to a good start for Jung on Friday.