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Tigers select 2B Jace Jung with No. 12 pick in 2022 MLB draft – Detroit Free Press

Looking for a quick boost at the plate — though it’s too late for this year — the Detroit Tigers and general manager Al Avila selected Texas Tech second baseman Jace Jung with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2022 MLB draft on Sunday night in Los Angeles.
“Couldn’t be more happy to be a Detroit Tiger,” Jung said.
Jung, a left-handed hitter, batted .335 with 14 homers and 18 doubles in 61 games for Texas Tech in 2022. That followed a 2021 season in which he launched 21 homers with a .337 average in 56 games for the Red Raiders.
The 21-year-old earned 2021 Big 12 Player of the Year honors and was a consensus All-American.
The San Antonio native also has baseball bloodlines; his brother, Josh, was the No. 8 pick by the Texas Rangers (also out of Texas Tech) in 2019. Josh Jung, 24, entered this season as the No. 29 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline.
Jace watched the draft with his parents, Jeff and Mary, in Lubbock, Texas.
“Just hitting and still working out and everything,” he said. “Honestly, if there was a wall in front of me, I probably would have ran through it. I’m thankful that wasn’t there, but I was pumped.”
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Some scouts believed Jung, who is represented by Scott Boras’ agency, wouldn’t be available for the Tigers at No. 12.
“We were a little bit worried that he would go before us,” said Scott Pleis, the Tigers’ director of amateur scouting. “We were super happy when he got to us. It’s a guy we’ve been talking about for a long time, long spring, long summer. It just happened we got lucky and he got to us.”
Three surprise picks in the top 10 forced Jung’s slide. Those picks were college pitchers: Kumar Rocker (Frontier League) to the Rangers at No. 3, Oklahoma’s Cade Horton to the Chicago Cubs at No. 7 and Gonzaga’s Gabriel Hughes at No. 10 to the Colorado Rockies.
The New York Mets selected Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada, a player the Tigers liked, at No. 11 overall. Oklahoma prep shortstop Jackson Holliday, the son of Matt Holliday, went No. 1 overall to the Baltimore Orioles.
The Tigers also showed plenty of interest in Virginia Tech outfielder Gavin Cross (No. 9 to Kansas City Royals) and Campbell shortstop Zach Neto (No. 13 to Los Angeles Angels).
“There was a few that went off the board a little quicker than we thought, and a few that did stick around a little longer,” Pleis said. “But all in all, I think they were all in the same range, and they’re all really good players. … There’s always a few surprises either way, but it went pretty much like he thought it would.”
The Jung pick comes on the same day that the Tigers’ most recent first-round college hitter, first baseman Spencer Torkelson, was demoted to Triple-A Toledo. Torkelson, the No. 1 pick out of Arizona State in 2020, was hitting .197 in 83 games this season.
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The Tigers entered 2022 with hopes of contending for a spot in MLB’s newly expanded postseason, but injuries to the starting rotation and a league-worst 3.13 runs per game have scuttled that plan.
In addition to Torkelson’s struggles, free agent signing Javier Báez (six years, $140 million) has sputtered to the All-Star break with just nine homers and a .213/.251/.375 slash line.
At 6 feet and 205 pounds, the biggest question about Jung is whether he can stay at second base. His defense is below-average, so the development of his body will indicate if he needs to move to first base or left field.
The Tigers plan to keep Jung at second base.
“Absolutely,” Pleis said. “Second base.”
His offense, though, should carry him to the big leagues.
Jung has a superb approach at the plate, knows the strike zone, can hit with two strikes and sends the ball to all areas of the field. Most importantly, he is a power threat without sacrificing contact.
“That makes me work harder and get better,” Jung said about his defense. “If people want to doubt me, I’m just going to keep working hard and getting better at my craft everyday. Pick up that glove extra, show them that I can play defense a little bit.”
Adding Jung at No. 12 follows last year’s top pick of Oklahoma high school pitcher Jackson Jobe at No. 3 overall. The 19-year-old righty has 43 strikeouts and 18 walks with a 5.09 ERA in 13 starts for Low-A Lakeland this season.
AVILA’S DRAFTING:Not great, but better than you think
This year’s selection is the lowest first-round pick for the franchise since taking college pitcher Alex Faedo from Florida at No. 18 in 2017.
The Tigers have 17 more picks in the second and third days of the draft. They stayed in the Big 12 for their second-rounder, selecting Oklahoma shortstop Peyton Graham at No. 51 overall.
The team didn’t have its own pick in the Competitive Balance Round B (No. 71 overall), as that was dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays as part of the package for outfielder Austin Meadows in April. The Tigers also forfeited their third-round pick when they signed left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez last winter.
The MLB draft continues in LA with Rounds 3-10 at 2 p.m. Monday and finishes with Rounds 11-20 at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
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