The Detroit Tigers 2022 first-round pick needs to have a good year in 2023
The Detroit Tigers needed to draft a bat in the first round of the 2022 MLB Draft, and they did just that by selecting Texas Tech second baseman Jace Jung with the 12th overall pick. He was sent straight to High-A West Michigan, where he played in 30 games and didn't exactly impress.
In 134 plate appearances, Jung slashed .231/.373/.333 with just one home run and a 106 wRC+. He hit a of balls on the ground and had trouble making hard contact.
Coming out of college, he was known for this plate discipline, and that certainly lived up to the billing. He had just two more strikeouts than walks. He had a walk rate of 18.7%, which is stellar. There's definitely something there. But other than that, he was pretty pedestrian.
His main concern coming out actually came on the defensive side of the ball. He doesn't have a long term defensive home, which I personally am not too concerned about at the moment. As long as he hits, the organization will find a spot for him.
He was obviously a second baseman in college, but the concern was that he isn't athletic enough to stick there in the pros. He could eventually move to first base, or even be a DH.
He started 27 games at second base with the Whitecaps in 2022, and he only committed one error. There aren't a lot of defensive stats available for the minor leagues, so it's hard to really tell how well he played at 2B without watching him play.
But the bat was considered to be pretty legit. MLB Pipeline even thought he could hit .300 with 30 homers in the majors someday. As of right now, that appears to be a long shot.
In no way am I saying that it's time to give up on Jung. The plate discipline alone is enough to keep believing in him, and I'm sure Scott Harris feels the same way. But he needs to start producing more. He needs to start driving the ball and hitting for more power.
Jung will probably start the season back at High-A given his lack of development in the short sample size last year, but there's an outside shot he starts at Double-A in 2023. Either way, he needs to hit. If not, we may be adding him to the long list of Al Avila draft busts.