Sudden impact — San Antonio’s Josh Jung homers in MLB debut

San Antonio native and Texas Rangers rookie Josh Jung on Friday made his first at-bat in the major leagues a memorable one, belting a home run over the left field wall in Arlington.

Jung, formerly of San Antonio MacArthur High School and Texas Tech University, led off the third inning in a home game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

He ripped an 0-2 offering from Texas A&M-ex Ross Stripling 388 feet into the seats just beyond the wall at Globe Life Field.

With the blast, Jung became just the second player in the history of the Rangers to homer in his first trip to the plate. He followed Jurickson Profar, who did it in 2012 in a game at Cleveland, according to Kennedi Landry of mlb.com.

In the end, the Blue Jays won, 4-3. The Rangers rallied from a three run deficit to tie it, 3-3. The Blue Jays scored in the top of the ninth to take the lead.

With a runner on first in the bottom of the ninth, Jung struck out swinging against Jordan Romano to end the game. For the night, he went 2 for 4 with a homer, a single and a stolen base.

San Antonio’s Josh Jung expected to make MLB debut with the Texas Rangers on Friday

San Antonio native Josh Jung is being called up to play for the Texas Rangers, media outlets covering the franchise reported Wednesday. The Rangers’ first-round draft pick in 2019 is expected to make his debut on Friday.

Jung played in high school at MacArthur in the North East Independent School District. He was a four-time all-district honoree, a three-time all-region winner and three-time all-state through the 2016 season.

With his promotion from Triple-A Round Rock to the Rangers, Jung follows two other MacArthur baseball legends into the major leagues — catchers Jerry Grote and John Gibbons.

Grote caught Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan and won a World Series with the Mets in 1969. Gibbons also played for the Mets and managed the Blue Jays. Another San Antonian, Odie Davis, briefly played shortstop for the Rangers in 1980.

Armed with a powerful batting stroke and agility in the field, Jung established himself in college as one of the top infielders in the history of Texas Tech University. He hit .306, .392 and .343 in his three seasons in Lubbock, leading the Red Raiders to the College World Series as a junior in 2019.

As a result, the Rangers made him the No. 8 overall selection in the baseball draft that summer. In the minor leagues, Jung dominated at the plate with a batting average of .311, an on-base percentage of .381 and a slugging percentage of .538.

He produced 30 home runs and 118 RBIs in 153 games covering the 2019, 2021 and 2022 seasons. Baseball wasn’t played in the minors in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jung is expected to play third base and perhaps some at first with the Rangers. He’s expected to make his debut on Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Rangers will host the Blue Jays in Arlington from Friday through Sunday.

Since the end of last season, speculation swirled that Jung would be a candidate to make the major leagues at some point in 2022.

Those plans were altered slightly when he suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder during spring training.

His season started July 28 when he was sent to the Arizona Complex League on a rehabilitation assignment. By Aug. 9, he joined the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock.

Jung has looked good at the plate in Triple-A, hitting .274, with a .317 on-base percentage. His slugging percentage was .526. He homered six times and drove in 24 runs in 31 games.

It’s been a big year for the Jung family. Earlier this summer, Josh’s younger brother, Jace Jung, was picked 12th overall on the first round of the draft by the Detroit Tigers. He is playing in the minor leagues in High Class A for the West Michigan Whitecaps.

Jace Jung also played in high school at MacArthur and in college at Texas Tech. While Josh Jung hits from the right side, Jace Jung bats lefty. He, too, hits for power. Both throw right-handed.

Rangers prospect Jack Leiter to start today at Wolff Stadium

Pregame

Heralded Texas Rangers pitching prospect Jack Leiter, a gifted athlete who always “seemed to have the game in his blood,” is expected to take the mound in San Antonio for the first time today.

Leiter (0-0, 3.00 ERA) is the scheduled starter for the Frisco RoughRiders in the first game of a Texas League doubleheader at Wolff Stadium against the San Antonio Missions.

He’ll opoose Thomas Eshelman (1-0, 1.80) of the Missions, with the first pitch set for 5:05 p.m.

In Leiter’s ballyhooed professional debut last Saturday at Frisco, the No. 1-ranked prospect in the Rangers organization threw 60 pitches in three innings in an 8-7 victory over the Arkansas Travelers.

Leiter, the No. 17 overall prospect in baseball, allowed one run on one hit and walked two. Showing off tremendous stuff, the 21-year-old righthander struck out seven of the 12 batters he faced.

One day in the not-too-distant future, Leiter figures to be a top-of-the-rotation starter in the big leagues.

But at this stage of his career, RoughRiders manager Jared Goedert says he doesn’t even want to verbalize the organization’s expectations for him.

“I think expectations can be dangerous,” he said.

In essence, Goedert just wants Leiter to do what he has always done as a player. Prepare. Work hard. Execute.

“We need him to just to go be himself,” Goedert said.

Goedert said he has confidence that Leiter will fare well for however long he pitches at the Double-A level with the RoughRiders.

“He has such a great repertoire of pitches that, if he can go out and execute those and be consistent with that, to me, that’s going to be a successful year for him,” the manager said. “I think he’ll do that, especially once he gets settled in … We want him to feel like he’s like one of 28 guys on our active roster.

“It doesn’t have to be him and 27 other guys. He’s a Frisco RoughRider, just like everybody else.”

When Leiter showed up for his debut last weekend at Frisco, he learned that the ball club had promoted his arrival with ‘Jack Pack’ ticket deals, T-shirts and a ‘K-card’ distribution for the first 1,500 fans.

Goedert said he thinks Leiter handled it as well as could be expected.

“I would say with the amount of buildup and hype and expectation, I was pretty impressed,” Goedert said. “They really promoted it (and we) had a really, really good crowd, especially for the first Saturday night of the year.

“I think he’d be the first to admit he probably needed to get in the strike zone more early with hitters. Because he didn’t, his pitch count got up there.

“But, overall … being able to shoulder all of that pressure, all of that expectation, to go about it like it was just another day at the office, it was pretty impressive.”

After the Pittsburgh Pirates selected University of Louisville catcher Henry Davis with the No. 1 pick last summer, the Rangers picked Leiter. Eventually, he signed for a reported $7.9 million.

In one season-plus at Vanderbilt University, Leiter produced a record of 13-4 with a 2.08 earned run average. He struck out 201 batters in 125 and 2/3 innings.

His record includes four games in the truncated 2020 season and then another 18 in 2021, when he went 11-4 with a 2.13 ERA.

For his efforts, he erned unanimous first-team All-American honors as well as being a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award and the Dick Howser Trophy.

Leiter is the son of former major leaguer Al Leiter. His father won 162 games in 19 seasons in the big leagues.

One of the most consistently good pitchers of his day, Al Leiter had double-figure victory totals for 10 straight seasons through 2004.

Al Leiter told a reporter last year at the College World Series that his son has “always loved the game” and also always seemed to have a good arm.

“When I was playing for the (New York) Mets, and going out to Shea Stadium, we lived on the upper East side (of Manhattan), and he always had a ball in his hand, he always had a glove,” Leiter said. “We’d go to the park (and) he’s throwing wall ball.

“So, it’s been kind of in his blood.”

Series at a glance

Tuesday — Frisco 6, San Antonio 4
Wednesday — Frisco 9, San Antonio 6
Thursday — Frisco 6, San Antonio 3
Friday — Frisco 7, San Antonio 3
Saturday — Doubleheader, 5:05 p.m.

Coming up

April 19-24 — San Antonio at Amarillo
April 26-May 1 — Springfield at San Antonio

Tatis Jr. homers twice and drives in seven runs for the Padres

Fernando Tatis Jr. made himself at home Monday night in the new home of the Texas Rangers.

The San Diego Padres’ second-year phenomenon belted two home runs, produced seven RBI and stirred one controversy in a 14-4 victory at Globe Life Field.

In a stunning show of power, Tatis crushed a line drive to left for a three-run homer in the seventh inning. In the eighth, he followed with an opposite-field grand slam.

The grand slam left the Rangers fuming.

It came on a 3-0 count with the Padres holding a seven-run lead. After it sailed over the wall in right field, the Padres expanded the advantage to 14-3.

“There’s a lot of unwritten rules that are constantly being challenged in today’s game,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward told reporters, as noted in a Twitter post from San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Jeff Sanders. “I didn’t like it, personally. You’re up by seven in the eighth inning. It’s typically not a good time to swing 3-0.”

Added Woodward, “It’s kind of the way we were all raised in the game, but like I said, the norms are all being challenged on a daily basis. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not right. I don’t think we liked it as a group.”

On the next play, Texas reliever Ian Gibaut threw a pitch that sailed behind San Diego slugger Manny Machado. Woodward said there was no purpose to the location of the pitch. “It slipped out of his hand and went wide,” he said, in comments relayed by Sanders.

“(Umpires) didn’t issue any warnings, so they must have come to the agreement that it wasn’t intentional. I was expecting them to warn somebody, but they didn’t.”

Jayce Tingler, a first-year Padres manager who worked with the Rangers for the past 13 years, congratulated Tatis for the slam but also told his young star that he had missed a take sign.

“He’s young, a free spirit and focused and all those things,” Tingler said in a story published by the Associated Press. “That’s the last thing that we’ll ever take away. It’s a learning opportunity and that’s it. He’ll grow from it.”

The power show boosted Tatis into the home-run lead in the major leagues.

Two years ago, he was one of the top prospects in baseball with the San Antonio Missions. Now he has 11 homers on the season, one more than Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels.

Tatis is only 21 years old.

Notable

Former Missions players Franmil Reyes and Fernando Tatis, Jr., have produced multi-home run games on back-to-back days in the major leagues. Reyes hit two for the Cleveland Indians on Sunday in Detroit. Tatis followed with two on Monday at Texas.