Ben Joyce, right-handed fighter from the University of Tennessee, went viral two months ago for shooting at 105.5 mph during a game against Auburn.
Joyce, the toughest pitcher in college baseball history, garnered attention with the speed of his fastball, ranking him No. 1.112 among drafts, according to the MLB Pipeline.
Angelswho drafted Joyce No. 1. 89 overall Monday, see him for more than just his fastball.
“It’s a big hand and he’s got stuff,” Angels scouting director Tim McIlwain said. “I think we feel like there are a few things we can work on with him and make him even more effective, instead of just throwing as hard as he can all the time.”
According to Joyce, his adviser, Hunter Bledsoe, called him two picks before his name was called and asked, “Do you want to be an angel?”
“I thought I was going to have a heart attack,” recalled Joyce, who was with his family at a house near the University of Tennessee, when he got the call. “It was a crazy call. Just to hear these words that a dream is finally coming true.”
Batsmen have a hard time keeping track of Joyce’s fastball as he throws it from the bottom arm slot at a right angle and typically averages 101 mph. He can get into the low end of the speed range, especially when he doesn’t fully own it, according to intelligence reports from MLB Pipeline and Baseball America, who also express skepticism about his longevity.
Joyce already has a serious injury history, having missed time in high school and college due to problems with growth plates, shoulders and elbows. During his senior year of high school, he missed several weeks of games due to severe pain, according to MLB.
That senior year at Farragut High also saw a rapid growth spurt of 8 inches. Joyce, now 6’5″ and 225 pounds, attributed his rapid growth to some of these injuries.
He required Tommy John surgery in 2020, causing him to miss all of 2021, and has only thrown about 50 innings since 2019 (the 2020 college season was also shortened due to the coronavirus pandemic).
“I don’t understand why I couldn’t keep pushing that limit and see what I can achieve. I don’t have a cap on.”
– Ben Joyce, drafted by the Angels, clocked up to 105.5 miles per hour.
Joyce doesn’t see his past injuries as a handicap and is looking forward to his future as a professional baseball player.
“I don’t have any skepticism,” Joyce said. “I’m really just ready to see what my body can do and how much I can handle in terms of delivery. And as far as I’ve gained and gained experience this year to go on longer walks, I think I’m ready to go.
“I’m not worried about how my body will hold up.”
McIlwain said he has seen Joyce grow and develop from his time at Walters State Community College to his time in Tennessee. McIlwaine said he saw potential in Joyce’s batting, which he didn’t throw very often in college. Scout Reports especially highlights his slider as his next best serve so far.
Joyce said he’s going to continue developing his secondary steps, specifically the slider and splitter, as well as working on adding a cutter that he’s been “tinkering with”.
The Angels were also drawn to his attitude, with McIlwaine describing him as “a fun sight,” which was confirmed when McIlwaine and other members of the Angels’ front office came to see Joyce at the MLB Draft Combine in San Diego last month.
“He’s a good kid. He’s got a good head on his shoulders, he’s very disciplined,” explained McIlwain. , between the ears, and he also ticks us.”
McIlvaine said they plan to use Joyce from the bullpen, but won’t close the door on him developing into a starter.
“It’s not out of the box, but we’re just going to take it slow and see where it goes,” McIlwain said.
Joyce has said that he wants to fill whatever role the Angels put him in and just wants to influence the future of the organization. He started five times as a junior and only once in Tennessee. Used primarily as a pitcher in Tennessee, he also made infrequent appearances against other SEC teams, and since he had recently returned from Tommy John, the volunteers were wary of his workload.
As for those fastballs, Joyce isn’t going to hold back. On Friday, he signed with the Angels for $1 million, about $300,000 more than his slot cost.
“I just got back from a pretty big elbow operation and this is really my first year of filing,” Joyce said. “So if I feel more comfortable and if I continue to train my body every day with training, mobility and speed, I don’t see why I can’t keep pushing that limit and see what I can achieve. I don’t have a cap on.”
The Angels drafted nine pitchers plus one two-way player with 19 picks. Joyce was one of eight players selected by the team on the second day of a three-day draft.
Zack Neto, Campbell University shortstop who the Angels compiled no. 13 total settled in the first round for a $3.5 million bonus, nearly $1 million less than the cost of the slot ($4,412,500), according to MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis.
Sonny DiChiara, the first baseman they drafted in the fifth round from Auburn, signed with the team for $172,500, about $200,000 short of the $383,200 slot. to Callis. He is expected to go straight to the Rocket City Trash Pandas double A-group in Madison, Alabama.
Other Angels pick Monday who signed deals include: right-handed pitcher Victor Mederos, who signed for $227,750; right-hander Roman Fansalkar for $27,500; two-way Dylan Phillips for $42,500; outfielder Joe Stewart for $7,500; and first baseman Matt Cutney for $7,500.
On the third day, they picked up the Dan brothers – Kaden, a pitcher, and Casey, an outfielder. Kaden, the Angels’ only high school pick, signed for $1,497,500, an 11th round record, according to Callis.
McIlwain explained that the choice of mostly college candidates was a result of the way the project was unfolding and that they had reached “a point where it’s harder to sign some high school students.”
Other players selected by the Angels on Day 3 included pitchers Jared Southard, Bryce Osmond and Sammy Nathera Jr. and Max Gig; outfielders Tucker Flint and Luke Franzoni; and catchers Sabin Ceballos and Brendan Tinsman.