Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
Triple-A Affiliate
The Official Site of the Toledo Mud Hens Toledo Mud Hens

The Road to The Show™: Tigers’ Jung

No. 60 overall prospect packs quite a punch with unique swing
Jace Jung batted .284 with a .936 OPS and 14 homers in 47 games with Double-A Erie in 2023. (Erie SeaWolves)
March 26, 2024

Each week, profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken toward achieving his Major League dream. Here's a look at fourth-ranked Tigers prospect Jace Jung. For more stories about players on The Road to The Show, click here. During the inaugural Spring Breakout games last week, Jace

Each week, profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken toward achieving his Major League dream. Here's a look at fourth-ranked Tigers prospect Jace Jung. For more stories about players on The Road to The Show, click here.

During the inaugural Spring Breakout games last week, Jace Jung proved he can stand out among the game’s best prospects for more than just his unique batting stance.

MLB Pipeline’s No. 60 overall prospect blasted a pair of homers for the Tigers in a 5-1 victory against the Phillies during the prospect showcase. Jung’s power has been his headlining trait since he was in college at Texas Tech. He led the Tigers’ system with 28 homers between High-A West Michigan and Double-A Erie last year.

As a Draft prospect, the 2022 first-rounder was graded as a below-average fielder at both second and third base with fringy arm strength. But he improved enough in his first full season to win the Gold Glove at second.

Even with that honor, Jung played exclusively at third in the Arizona Fall League and has played more at the hot corner while splitting time amongst the two positions during Spring Training. Although it seems the recently extended Colt Keith, Detroit's No. 2 prospect, is set to take over at second, Jung’s future defensive home still seems yet to be determined.

No matter where he ends up on the field, Jung’s bat will keep him in the lineup. Last season, he produced five multihomer games, including back-to-back two-dinger efforts in September. The Tigers' No. 4 prospect finished third among the system’s qualifiers with 27 doubles and 82 RBIs, ranked fourth with a .502 slugging percentage and 79 walks and had the sixth-best OPS at .878.

At this rate, Jung’s journey through the Minor Leagues has gone much smoother than his older brother’s. Josh Jung, the World Series-champion third baseman for the Rangers, was limited by injuries to 153 Minor League games between 2019 and 2022 after he too was drafted in the first round out of Texas Tech.

Jace Jung, who helped lead the SeaWolves to their first Eastern League championship in September, was able to see his brother’s World Series victory in person, making the trip to Chase Field in Phoenix after his AFL games. The elder Jung collected four hits over the final two games of the World Series with his brother in attendance.

“It was one of those things as a child you dream of playing wiffle ball and all that kind of stuff,” Jace told in November.

The brothers got to play one season together at MacArthur High School in San Antonio, Texas, during Jace’s freshman season when Josh was a senior. As Josh finished his All-American career at Texas Tech, Jace was doing the same at MacArthur. During his stellar senior season, Jace batted .476 with seven homers and followed Josh’s path to Texas Tech.

Jace Jung was an immediate contributor in his first season with the Red Raiders but was limited to 19 games by the pandemic. He was able to break out the following season in 2021, batting .337/.462/.697 with 21 homers and 67 RBIs.

The 6-foot, 205-pound second baseman was a consensus All-American, Big 12 Player of the Year, NCBWA National Freshman Hitter of the Year and a finalist for the Dick Howser Trophy. He was invited to play on USA Baseball's Collegiate National team that summer and also had an eight-game stint with Orleans in the Cape Cod League.

Jung played in all 61 contests during his final college season in 2022, giving him the distinction of having appeared in every Texas Tech game, starting all but three, since his arrival on campus. Jung did not have the same power output as the previous year, but he finished the season with a personal-best 75 total hits and 18 doubles while clubbing 14 homers and driving in 57 runs. Including the pandemic-shortened 2020, Jung recorded more walks than strikeouts in each of his three college seasons.

MLB Pipeline ranked Jung as the No. 9 prospect in the 2022 Draft class. He was selected by the Tigers with the No. 12 overall pick and was reunited with Peyton Graham, the University of Oklahoma shortstop whom the Tigers selected in the second round. Jung and Graham, who is now Detroit's No. 26 prospect, were roommates when they played summer ball together with the Santa Barbara Foresters of the California Collegiate League in 2020.

After the Draft, Jung and the Tigers agreed to a deal worth the full-slot bonus of $4,590,300. A week later, Jung made his professional debut, getting an aggressive assignment to West Michigan.

Over 30 games with the Whitecaps to close out the season, Jung batted .231 with a .706 OPS. He recorded eight extra-base hits, including one homer, while driving in 13 runs.

Jung opened the 2023 season back in West Michigan and went on to become a Midwest League All-Star. He compiled a .254/.377/.465 slash line with 14 homers and 43 RBIs for the Whitecaps before being promoted just after the break.

The 23-year-old quickly proved to be plenty comfortable against Eastern League pitching, batting .284 with a .936 OPS. He matched his West Michigan homer output in 34 fewer games and compiled a remarkable .279 ISO. But he his strikeout rate also jumped to nearly 27 percent with Erie.

After collecting four hits in 14 at-bats en route to an Eastern League title, Jung finished the season with Salt River in the AFL. He batted .200 over 15 games, delivering a homer and eight RBIs, but more importantly made a defensive shift to third base, where he committed just one error in 19 total chances.

So far in Grapefruit League play, Jung has recorded seven hits in 22 at-bats (.318) with a homer and five RBIs. He hoped to prove he was ready for the Opening Day roster, but manager A.J. Hinch informed him at the start of camp that that wasn’t a possibility.

But he remained committed to becoming a more well-rounded ballplayer, particularly on defense, spending extra time in drills with coach Joey Cora. Although he’s returning to the Minors for the start of the season, there’s a very good chance he breaks through to the Majors sometime soon.

This spring, he made a believer out of Hall of Famer and Tigers’ legend Alan Trammell, who works as a special assistant to the club.

“He’s all business,” Trammell told last week. “I think you can see it in his work. He’s serious, and he wants to be a big leaguer.”

Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for