Rangers top prospect Josh Jung underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder this morning, the team told reporters (Twitter link via Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News). It’s expected to be about six months before he’s cleared to even begin serving as a designated hitter in games. Jung sustained the injury recently while lifting weights as part of his offseason training regimen. Texas had already shut him down, but the hope was that he could avoid surgery. After receiving additional medical opinions this week, however, surgery was deemed the necessary course of treatment.
It’s a brutal blow for the Rangers, who hoped last year could serve as the final full year of development for Jung. A big league debut at some point in 2022 was widely expected after the 2019 No. 8 overall pick laid waste to Double-A and Triple-A pitching in 2021. In 342 plate appearances between those two levels, Jung slashed a combined .326/.398/.592 with 19 home runs, 22 doubles, a triple, a 22.2% strikeout rate and a 9.1% walk rate.
There was some thought that with a big enough spring showing, Jung could even position himself as a candidate to break camp with the Rangers. Texas is clearly shifting from its prior rebuilding mode into a win-now mindset, as evidenced by their offseason signings of Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Jon Gray. Jung is the overwhelming favorite to eventually slot in as the team’s everyday third baseman, and most scouting reports on the promising former Texas Tech star expect him to do just that. He ranked as the No. 26 prospect in MLB at Baseball America this winter, No. 31 at Baseball Prospectus and No. 19 at ESPN. The team at FanGraphs was most bullish on Jung, placing a 60 grade on him overall (on the 20-80 scale) and ranking him inside the sport’s 15 best farmhands.
Any coronation of Jung as the team’s everyday third baseman is now on hold for the majority of the 2022 season — if not until the 2023 campaign. With Jung now out of the picture for the foreseeable future, versatile defensive star Isiah Kiner-Falefa finds himself shifting from a super-utility role (and interesting trade candidate) to the team’s primary option at the hot corner.
The 26-year-old Kiner-Falefa is well equipped to handle such a role, as he proved in 2020 when he won a Gold Glove Award at third base. He moved to shortstop for the 2021 campaign and turned in another strong defensive showing, although the potential drop-off from Jung to Kiner-Falefa from an offensive standpoint is likely to be steep. Talented as he is with the glove, Kiner-Falefa is primarily a singles hitter who rarely walks. He’s posted a .273/.316/.361 batting line over the past two seasons, which is productive enough to provide value when combined with his defensive prowess, but Jung has quite a bit more power and is widely expected to be an impact performer on offense.
Offensive gap between the two notwithstanding, Kiner-Falefa is a solid option to have on hand. He had reportedly been of interest to the Yankees as a possible trade candidate prior to the lockout, but Jung’s injury surely dampens the possibility that the Rangers would consider parting with Kiner-Falefa. While they could, speculatively speaking, still move Kiner-Falefa if a compelling enough offer presents itself and follow that trade with a short-term free agent signing, the likelier scenario is that Kiner-Falefa will be manning the hot corner at Globe Life Field for the vast majority of the 2022 season. Should Seager or Semien find themselves out of the lineup, Kiner-Falefa could step in for either player, with 28-year-old Andy Ibanez providing some additional cover at second base and third base.
For Love of the Game
Too bad for the young man and for the Rangers, but the lockout might have prevented a small disaster if the team traded Isiah Kiner-Falefa thinking he was surplus. Now he’s more than depth – he’s probably a starter.
Please, Hammer. Don't hurt 'em.
I hope it doesn’t seriously hurt his career. Which players have come back from torn labrum surgery to still be uber successful? I’m sure this will drop his prospect stock down to the point where nobody ranks him top 31 anymore. At least until he comes back from the surgery and proves he can still rake in triple-A. It sucks because shoulder injuries are some of the worst kind of injury a baseball player can have. It hurts even more because he hasn’t even made it to the show yet and he was considered such a great prospect. I’m hoping this just means he will be delayed and not worse than he would be but who knows?
Fever Pitch Guy
Thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.
But it’s a tough injury to come back from for sure.
Please, Hammer. Don't hurt 'em.
Oh, damn. The pitcher Chris Carpenter?
I’m going with Drew Brees.
Please, Hammer. Don't hurt 'em.
This was the same injury Brees had when he was a Charger? That makes me more optimistic for sure. Brees was actually better after the injury.
yes and no. Yes, Drew Brees tore his labrum in his throwing arm on his last play as a Charger, but no, he ALSO partially tore his rotator cuff at the same time. One would think that it’s a lot easier to come back from a labrum tear than a labrum tear AND partial rotator cuff tear…
Hopefully this doesn’t cause significant issues. Labrum surgery can be tricky. A number of hitters never quite returned to their prior form. Maybe being a righty hitter but having surgery on the left will mean it’s less of an issue.
Hopefully he can recover well and the surgery doesn’t sap any of his power.
“must be service-time manipulation”
“must be tiresome creating alt-accounts to like your own posts”
dude I’m on mobile
Ouch!!! That’s so unfortunate.
Positive outlook, rangers stole #6 & #26 international signees from Nationals. Anthony was and regarded the best hitter in his class
I know the Rangers aren’t the favorites but hurry up and dethrone the Astros as AL West Champs.
I’ve had surgery to repair a torn labrum. It’s not fun
Jung will be ready for the start of the next MLB season
The power loss is great between IKF and Jung. I think that makes a greater need to be sure they add Suzuki or Schwarber to offset the power loss.
Ouch…. I had no expectations to see Jung until the middle of the season but that still hurts bigtime. Maybe it is a blessing in disguise as we weren’t looking to comete this year anyway. Duran played 3B in fall league maybe he gets a cup of coffee now? Also have Foscue at 2B I wonder if Semien could move to 3B?
Rereading this sounds terrible. Not a blessing for the kid to get hurt, obviously. Just a silver lining I guess that his clock doesn’t start until Leiter/ Winn are closer to ready, 2023 should be fun.
I not only got what you meant, I agree 100%. At this point, maybe he gets promoted in May, 2023. The Rangers should be closer to competing, and would not have lost a year of service. You’d still rather have the healthy Jung, but this might give them a chance to work on his unsightly K-rates. Not hugely high, but 76 Ks in 304 ABs in AA and in the AAAW, is a pretty fair amount.
Stat-wise, Ibanez looks better than Kiner-Falefa, over a shorter time span. As usual, there is probably something the numbers aren’t telling us. Start Ibanez and see if he can get to 20 bombs. That and his other stats could make him the starter and leave Kiner-Falefa where he belongs as a defensive sub for C, and infield positions.
lumber and lighting
1B future & Texas best trading chip & prospect was just downgraded.
Maybe but I doubt it. Someone who is really good defensively might force him to play 1B just to get his bat in the lineup, but the kid played shortstop in college and is really good defensively, he’s not going to 1B until he gets old.
Or until he gets hurt and loses arm strength.
Whoops wrong shoulder duh
haha yep I did the exact same thing when I first heard. I guess your mind goes to the worst case scenario first haha
Jung was so fun to watch in college. Labrum surgery for a guy who will lay out for balls with that left arm extended isn’t what you want to hear.
Yeah, he could end up crushing my halos for years but I hope he comes back fully.
When is the Braves/Angels World Series happening?
I’ll gladly take it this year ha ha.
That escalated quickly!
Thankfully it is his non-throwing (left) shoulder so that is much easier to come back from than if it happened to his right shoulder. He’ll be back 100% by 2023.
He may return before the league returns.
I’m not sure an injury of this type to your lead hitting shoulder is anymore desirable. The argument can be made that you’re better off considering a position change than redeveloping your swing.
Probably won’t miss a game.
he will certainly miss AAA games
Look for the Rangers to go after Correa once the lockout ends.
Shoulders are the worst
Life as a rangers’ fan is so tragic. It’s miserable over here
Thank god now the Rangers could keep Kiner Falefa.
I know, right? Save Cashman from himself! But someone still has to steal Simmons from us too. And Iglesias.
I wonder if Solak has a shot to break camp now. I’d like to see him get another shot at some regular at bats.
Totally agree. Not ready to give up on him yet
Players need to tone down the lifting. Listen to Tom Brady: “It’s all about flexibilty!”