Rangers’ top prospect Josh Jung will undergo surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot, per Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (via Twitter). The injury likely puts Jung on the shelf for six to eight weeks. A generalized timetable projects his return to come a couple of weeks into the minor league season.
Jung, 23, is the 63rd-ranked prospect in baseball per MLB.com. The Rangers took Jung with the eighth overall pick out of Texas Tech in the 2019 draft. Jung departed the Red Raiders as one of the best position players in school history.
Though he is not on the Rangers’ 40-man roster, he was invited to Major League camp. Generally speaking, he’s believed to be closer to the Majors than one might assume, given that his last game action took place in Single-A during his first professional season. Though the Rangers like what they’ve seen from Jung, he was not going to be on the opening day roster, despite their need at the position. Rougned Odor is set for significant playing time at the hot corner this season, while Sherten Apostel, 22, stands as the most obvious roadblock to Jung’s long-term future at the position. Apostel is likely to find his way back to the Majors at some point this season after debuting in 2020.
It’s an unfortunate setback for the Rangers’ consensus top prospect, but the Rangers hope it turns out to be a minor one. Per Grant, President of Baseball Ops Jon Daniels said, “That opportunity, as far as Josh is concerned, I don’t think has moved back a whole lot. Once he goes out and gets rolling and is productive, if he’s knocking the door down and performing at a level that we feel like he’s ready for the next challenge, we’ll respond.”
Jung was likely to begin the 2021 season at Triple-A, though Texas could decide to start him him in Double-A, given the injury. In the long term, the Rangers are hopeful that Jung will establish himself as the third baseman of the future at Globe Life Field in Arlington.