It hasn’t taken long for Josh Jung to find his comfort zone. The Texas Rangers’ top prospect has registered hits in eight of his first 10 games.
The 24-year-old power-hitting third baseman aims to stay hot when the Rangers (63-83) open a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels (64-83) on Tuesday in Arlington, Texas.
Jung on Sunday had two hits, including a home run, in a 5-3 loss at the Tampa Bay Rays.
“I thought I hit it too high, to be honest,” Jung said in an MLB.com story about his Sunday homer. “I put a good swing on it. I’ve been trying to stay inside the baseball. I got the pitch and stayed inside of it.”
Since being promoted on Sept. 9, Jung is hitting .250 with three home runs and an .800 OPS. The eighth overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft has 40 plate appearances, and he has struck out 18 times while not yet drawing a walk.
“He continues to go up there and compete at the plate,” Rangers interim manager Tony Beasley said. “As he goes along, he will definitely be better off for things that he’s struggling with right now as far as strikeouts. He wants to do well and be a great player, and he will cut those down in time.”
After an off day on Monday, the Rangers open a three-game series with the Angels and a six-game homestand.
In Tuesday’s series opener, rookie left-hander Cole Ragans (0-2, 5.68) gets the starting nod for Texas. Los Angeles is going with right-hander Mike Mayers (1-1, 5.51) in a bullpen game.
Texas holds an 8-5 season series advantage.
The Angels enter the series having taken three-of-four from the Seattle Mariners, although they lost 9-1 on Monday.
Shohei Ohtani went 2-for-4 for Los Angeles on Monday, and now has a five-game hit streak.
Mayers has made four appearances this season against the Rangers, all in relief, and he has a 6.35 ERA in 5 2/3 innings.
For his career, the 30-year-old is 2-1 (3.86) against Texas in 16 games, all in relief.
Ragans will be making his seventh big league start, and first appearance against the Angels.
The 24-year-old southpaw was the Rangers’ first-round pick (30th overall) in the 2016 MLB Draft.
Throwing strikes has been a bit of a challenge for Ragans, who is averaging 5 walks per nine innings.
Ragans is coming off a no-decision against the Oakland Athletics. In that outing, he was tagged for seven runs in four innings on Sept. 13.
As the Angels wind down a disappointing season, they are getting a chance to test out some of their prospects.
Infielder Livan Soto was promoted recently from Double-A Rocket City, and he made his first big league start at shortstop on Sunday. In a 5-1 win against the Seattle Mariners, the 22-year-old hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning. Soto added a hit in four at-bats on Monday.
“It helped me settle my nerves,” Soto told reporters through an interpreter postgame. “Then I got the homer, and when I was running the bases, my knees were kind of shaking. But I was happy.”
Soto’s promotion came after David Fletcher was placed on the injured list with a right-hand contusion.
Down the stretch, the Angels plan on giving Soto looks at shortstop and second base. The Venezuelan native signed as an international free agent in 2017.
— Field Level Media