Joyce gets delayed gratification in 2nd shot at Majors

June 7th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Rhett Bollinger's Angels Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

ANAHEIM -- ’s arrival to the Majors this season was a bit delayed.

And by delayed, his flight was literally delayed on the runway for several hours on Sunday, thanks to an unfortunate issue that caused Joyce not to arrive to T-Mobile Park until the eighth inning of a 9-0 loss to the Mariners. Joyce, the club’s No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline, took it in stride and was simply excited to make the jump to the Majors for the second time in his career.

“I think the toilets on the plane, something happened, and we couldn’t fly,” Joyce said. “So we sat on the runway for several hours. I finally made it, but it was pretty crazy.”

Joyce’s delayed arrival also relates to his season. He was given the opportunity to compete for a spot in the bullpen in Spring Training, but struggled with his control. It was clear that despite having a fastball that regularly hits triple-digits on the radar gun, he needed extra seasoning at Double-A Rocket City.

Joyce, 23, took some time to work out the kinks early in the season, but once the calendar turned to May, he locked in and looked like a potential relief ace. He finished his stint with Double-A Rocket City on an incredible stretch, posting a 1.59 ERA with 21 strikeouts and three walks in 11 1/3 innings since May 4. He made the most of it in an electric season debut in a 3-2 win over the Padres on Wednesday, hitting as high as 103.3 mph with his fastball.

“I’ve just been trusting my stuff every time I go out there and not getting ahead of myself,” Joyce said. “Just staying with the pitch that I'm on. And putting my full energy into that one pitch and trying to execute that pitch and then moving on to the next one. I think it's been a big thing, and my overall confidence has gone up in my stuff. I know that I can get people out, and trust that every time I go out there.”

Joyce, a third-round pick out of the University of Tennessee in 2022, said it was important to create that mindset this year in the Minors and that his confidence is at an all-time high. He knows he has elite stuff, with a fastball that has hit as high a 104 mph and averaged 100.9 mph in his first stint in the Majors last year.

“I'm trusting my stuff,” Joyce said. “I know that I can throw my stuff in the zone and get outs. Working with visuals has been also good. And making sure that I throw a first-pitch strike and then just work from there. I think it's just kind of a mix of a bunch of different things.”

Manager Ron Washington loved Joyce’s potential in Spring Training and heard from the coaching staff at Double-A Rocket City that Joyce had made a lot of improvements over the last month.

“I certainly loved his arm,” Washington said. “He’s a young kid. At the time, he didn’t really know how to use it. But I think there’s now an opportunity to come up and stay in the big leagues. It’ll be up to him.”

Triple-A Salt Lake: LHP Kenny Rosenberg
He’s not a prospect in the traditional sense, but Rosenberg is putting up impressive numbers despite the high altitude in Salt Lake City, and gives the Angels some starting depth. The 28-year-old has posted a 3.84 ERA in 12 starts, while the club’s combined team ERA is 4.49.

Double-A Rocket City: RHP Caden Dana
Dana, the Angels' No. 2 prospect, is off to an incredible start with Rocket City despite being just 20 years old. He's posted a 2.62 ERA with 53 strikeouts in 55 innings over 10 starts. A promotion to the Majors later this season can't be ruled out.

High-A Tri-City: RHP Camden Minacci
Minacci, the club’s No. 18 prospect, was considered a potential fast riser as a reliever after being closer at Wake Forest and getting selected in the sixth round of last year's Draft. He struggled in his first taste of pro ball last year, but has recorded nine saves and posted a 2.79 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings.

Single-A Inland Empire: INF Adrian Placencia
Placencia, ranked as the club’s No. 14 prospect, is tapping into his power this season, hitting a team-leading 10 homers in 46 games. He’s also shown strong plate discipline with 39 walks and a .433 on-base percentage, but he will need to cut down on his strikeout rate with 51 strikeouts in 188 plate appearances.