Tigers Prospect Jace Jung Is (And Isn’t) Like His Older Brother

Evan Petzold/USA TODAY NETWORK

Jace Jung is following in his brother’s footsteps, albeit via a distinctly different path. Unlike his older sibling, Texas Rangers 2023 rookie standout Josh Jung, the 23-year-old Detroit Tigers infield prospect isn’t a self-professed hitting nerd. Which isn’t to suggest he lacks the skills needed to one day wield an impact bat at the big league level. A top prospect in a solid Detroit system, the younger Jung is coming off of a first full professional season where he slashed .265/.376/.502 with 28 home runs and a 143 wRC+ between High-A West Michigan and Double-A Erie.

His left-handed stroke has long been his calling card. A three-year stalwart at Texas Tech University — the same school Josh attended — Jace put up an 1.116 OPS as a collegian before being taken 12th overall by the Tigers in the 2022 draft. That he’s continued to bash in pro ball is anything but a surprise. Possessing a plus power profile, he is in many ways a mirror image of his right-handed-hitting brother, though again, not when it comes to having an analytic approach to the craft. As he explained to me late in the Arizona Fall League season, Jace is a proponent of keeping things as simple as possible.

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David Laurila: Your brother told me that you’re not nearly as much of a hitting nerd as he is. How much do you study hitting?

Jace Jung: “I’ve actually gotten into it a lot more this year, trying to figure out what pitchers’ pitches do. At the same time, when I get up to the plate, I mostly just trust my swing. I know that what it comes down to for me is rhythm and timing. So really, I try to keep it as simple as possible when I get up there. I just try to hit the baseball.”

Laurila: Based on the Talks Hitting interview I did with Josh in January 2022, the two of you do approach hitting quite differently…

Jung: “We’re each our own ballplayer. We’re different, and it’s OK to be different in certain aspects of the game. We don’t really have to compare as we go up. But we do go back and forth with each other on ideas and stuff like that. I think that’s what makes us so successful; we can rattle off ideas and pick each other’s brains. Our brains don’t think alike — we’re not robots — but they’re actually competing, our brains are competing, doing things to grind out the day.”

Laurila: You mentioned rhythm and timing. What is your timing mechanism?

Jung: “Just finding something on the pitcher. It could be all kinds of stuff. I don’t really want to talk about it too much, because then people will know what my timing is. But again, I try to keep it as simple as possible. I key in on something on the pitcher and try to drive the ball.”

Laurila: I recall Josh telling me that he looks at his exit velocities and launch angles. It sounds like maybe you don’t?

Jung: “I mean, I do look at a lot of stuff. After the game, I’ll go back and basically dissect how they pitched me. That way I kind of have an idea the next day, and then the next day and the next day, I’ll do the same thing. And I am trying to learn more about my swing, trying to see what I struggle with, trying to see what I’m good with, trying to hone in on my strengths.”

Laurila: Looking at your home runs numbers, your swing is seemingly built for loft…

Jung: “I honestly have no idea. I don’t really look at that. I just go out there and try to hit the ball hard somewhere.”

Laurila: Your power numbers were better in Erie than they were in West Michigan, which isn’t too surprising given the respective hitting environments. Did West Michigan’s pitcher-friendly ballpark influence your approach at all?

Jung: “Yes. That definitely came into play. In that ballpark, you’re not thinking so much about hitting the ball out. You’re thinking more, ‘Hey, I need a line drive up the middle, I need a line drive up the gap.’ I mean, you should always think that, but yes, it is a little bit harder to hit it out there. You have to really hone in on line drives, and not really lift the ball much, because if it gets in the air, it’s probably not going anywhere. So, just drive the ball.”

Laurila: Are there certain situations, in certain ballparks, where you are thinking home run?

Jung: “No, not really. I don’t ever go up there trying to hit a home run. I’m more about just going up there and trying to drive the ball. I want to get a good pitch and put a good swing on it. Like I said, I like to keep it simple. I just go out there and try to do damage.”

Laurila: Is that with pretty much the same set-up and swing you took into pro ball?

Jung: “Yeah. There have just been a few little tweaks here and there. That’s what this game is; it’s small adjustments. Little tweaks is what the good players do. Alan Trammell talks about it all the time. He says that good hitters are making small adjustments all the time, including at-bat to at-bat, and pitch to pitch. For me, it’s all about doing that while still keeping things simple.”

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Earlier “Talks Hitting” interviews can found through these links: Jo Adell, Jeff Albert, Greg Allen, Nolan Arenado, Aaron Bates, Jacob Berry, Alex Bregman, Bo Bichette, Justice Bigbie, Cavan Biggio, Charlie Blackmon, JJ Bleday, Bobby Bradley, Will Brennan, Jay Bruce, Triston Casas, Matt Chapman, Michael Chavis, Garrett Cooper, Gavin Cross, Jacob Cruz, Nelson Cruz, Paul DeJong, Josh Donaldson, Brendan Donovan, Donnie Ecker, Rick Eckstein, Drew Ferguson, Justin Foscue, Michael Fransoso, Ryan Fuller, Joey Gallo, Paul Goldschmidt, Devlin Granberg, Andy Haines, Mitch Haniger, Robert Hassell III, Austin Hays, Nico Hoerner, Rhys Hoskins, Eric Hosmer, Jacob Hurtubise, Tim Hyers, Connor Joe, Josh Jung, Jimmy Kerr, Heston Kjerstad, Steven Kwan, Trevor Larnach, Doug Latta, Royce Lewis, Evan Longoria, Michael Lorenzen, Gavin Lux, Dave Magadan, Trey Mancini, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Marcelo Mayer, Hunter Mense, Owen Miller, Ryan Mountcastle, Cedric Mullins, Daniel Murphy, Lars Nootbaar, Logan O’Hoppe, Vinnie Pasquantino, Graham Pauley, Luke Raley, Brent Rooker, Drew Saylor, Marcus Semien, Giancarlo Stanton, Spencer Steer, Trevor Story, Fernando Tatis Jr., Spencer Torkelson, Mark Trumbo, Justin Turner, Trea Turner, Josh VanMeter, Robert Van Scoyoc, Chris Valaika, Zac Veen, Alex Verdugo, Mark Vientos, Matt Vierling, Luke Voit, Anthony Volpe, Joey Votto, Christian Walker, Jared Walsh, Jordan Westburg, Jesse Winker, Bobby Witt Jr. Mike Yastrzemski, Nick Yorke, Kevin Youkilis.





David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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VinnieDaGooch
2 months ago

Thoroughly boring answers from Jung lol

russellbomember
2 months ago
Reply to  VinnieDaGooch

I think he may have set the record for the phrase “I just go out there and try to do damage” in talks hitting lol