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Prospect season in review: Rangers' Foscue

No. 83 overall prospect taps into power during first pro season
Justin Foscue batted .275 with 17 homers across three levels in his first professional season. (Walter Barnard/
December 8, 2021's Prospect Season in Review series spotlights players who shined brightest during the 2021 campaign. Here's a look at fourth-ranked Rangers prospect Justin Foscue.'s Prospect Season in Review series spotlights players who shined brightest during the 2021 campaign. Here's a look at fourth-ranked Rangers prospect Justin Foscue.

Justin Foscue may not be the same type of hitter that he was in college, but that won't stop him from progressing as one of the game's best prospects.

Across three different levels of the Minors, one of which was a three-game rehab stint in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League, the 22-year-old batted .275/.371/.590 with 17 homers, 51 RBIs, 19 doubles and 52 runs scored.

Foscue missed about a six-week chunk of the season after suffering a rib contusion 13 games into the year. But he got enough plate appearances to show that the high-average, high-on-base reputation he built at Mississippi State was not following him to the Minors.

In three seasons with the Bulldogs, Foscue struck out in 9.6 percent of his total plate appearances. Included in that figure is his pandemic-shortened junior year, during which he struck out three times in 69 plate appearances.

That all changed for the Rangers' fourth-ranked prospect in his first professional season. Foscue whiffed in about 27 percent of his plate appearances this season with High-A Hickory, Double-A Frisco and in the ACL.

“I feel like I’ve always been pretty selective with my approach, but now the guys can command multiple pitches in multiple counts,” Foscue told during the Arizona Fall League in October. “In college, you’re getting a fastball in a 3-1, 2-0 count. Now they’re going to throw you a change or a slider. You just have to be very selective in what you want to hit.”

Foscue, MLB Pipeline's No. 83 overall prospect, struck out 23 times in 89 plate appearances with Surprise in the AFL, which lowered his overall strikeout rate only a fraction of a percent. But when including the five homers he hit with the Saguaros, his 22 total long balls are more than the 19 he hit in three seasons at Mississippi State.

Being able to tap into his above-average raw power was a defining characteristic of Foscue's season. After receiving a cortisone shot a few weeks into his stint on the injured list, he returned to rehab on July 6. Foscue went yard in his final rehab game two days later, then homered in his next seven contests with Hickory, matching a Major League record reached by Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly and Dale Long.

"My approach since I've gotten back here is to just see the ball and hit the ball,” Foscue told after a two-homer performance on July 16 against Aberdeen. “I try to keep it as simple as possible. Since I've gotten back, I don't really think anything in the box. I just go ahead and let my talent take over. … With two strikes, they hung two breaking balls, and that's the difference between hitting a ton of homers versus not. I think that in the beginning of the season, I was missing those pitches I could do damage on. Now, I’m not.”

Foscue's overall .590 slugging percentage was higher than he posted during any year in college. And his 1.143 OPS with the Crawdads proved he was ready to be challenged at the next level. But the pitching at Double-A seemed to catch up to him.

In 26 games with the RoughRiders, Foscue batted .247 with 13 RBIs and a .704 OPS, and he compiled an 89 wRC+ -- which is 100 points lower than the mark he posted at Hickory.

“I don't really care about the results right now for my personal sake,” Foscue told shortly after his return from the IL. “Let's go out there and play a game I love. Let the results happen as they go. I've tried to take it day by day this first professional season and let everything else take care of itself.”

It seemed like Foscue had a hard time getting into his new approach with Frisco. He saw a 14 percent increase in his ground ball rate, and an identical drop in his fly ball percentage. The Huntsville, Alabama, native had seven doubles in 104 plate appearances with the Rough Riders, and his only two Double-A homers came in consecutive games on the last two days of the regular season.

Foscue got back into his Hickory form a bit when he got to make up for some missed time in the AFL. He brought his OPS up to .944 while driving in 14 runs and scoring 15 times, all of which eclipsed his numbers at Frisco in just 15 fewer plate appearances.

“There’s a lot of good opportunity here against a lot of good talent,” Foscue told in October. “You can either take advantage of it or you can just sit around not getting better.”

Defensively, he played second base exclusively in 2021 and at the Rangers' alternate site last year. Foscue committed five errors in 196 total chances at second -- which became his natural position after a shift from third base during college.

The Rangers' selection of Foscue with the 14th pick in last year's Draft seemed like it could be a reach at the time. He was No. 32 in MLB Pipeline's Draft prospect rankings, and the $3.25 million bonus he signed was about 20 percent lower than his slot value.

But the Rangers saw tremendous value in Foscue's offensive profile. Rangers scouting director Kip Fagg said on Draft night that the 6-foot, 205-pound infielder had "a chance to be an impact bat."

“Throughout my whole life I have never been the top-ranked kind of player,” Foscue told after being drafted. “I had chip on my shoulder to prove people wrong. I believed in myself. I just went to work and put my head down and didn’t listen to the outside noise with the rankings and stuff … always believing in myself, that’s how I got to this point.”

Even though the bat the Rangers scouted is different from the one that appeared in 2021, it could still be Foscue's ticket to Arlington. And with the club committing $561 million to free agents before the lockout, Foscue could soon make that impact in some very important ball games.

Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for