The Josh Jung era has arrived.
Rangers fans have been waiting for this day all year. Really, ever since Josh Jung was signed. And, really, before that, for as long as Jon Daniels was in charge of the franchise. In all that time Daniels struggled to produce many bona fide prospects. The short list includes Mitch Moreland, Chris Young, Derek Holland, Justin Smoak, and Joey Gallo. Only Smoak and Gallo became All-Stars, Smoke once, Gallo twice. In sixteen drafts, it’s not unreasonable to expect him to have produced at least one premier player.
Maybe Jung is that one. Finally.
The road to Jung, however, is paved with Mike Olt, Ronald Guzman, Nomar Mazara, Julio Borbon, Justin Smoke, Matt Purke, Joke Skolk, Kellin Dugan, Zach Cone, Lewis Brinson, Collin Wiles, Travis Demeritte, Luis Ortiz, and Dillon Tate, and dozens of other failed prospects.
But Jung seems different. Maybe it’s wishful thinking. Maybe it’s the real thing.
The twenty-four-year-old third baseman was the Rangers number one draft pick in 2019. He played in a handful of games at the end of 2019, sat out 2020 like most of America, injured his foot and missed most of 2021, then injured his shoulder and missed a huge chunk of 2022.
But when he played, it was glorious. In fifty-eight Triple-A games, Jung hit .316, with a .389 on-base percentage and a whopping .988 OPS.
He hits for average. He hits for power.
And when he hits the field tonight, it will be the culmination of a lot of dreams. His. His family’s. Rangers’ fans. And the entire Rangers franchise.
It’s a lot to put on the shoulders of a young kid. And nobody is expecting him to win Rookie of the Year in these remaining handful of games. Remember, Mike Trout hit just .220 in his handful of games late in 2011. Then he came back in 2012 and took ownership of baseball.
This team desperately needs a win when it comes to drafting and developing. Here’s hoping it’s Josh Jung.
Welcome to the major leagues, Josh. We’ve been waiting for you.