Can Joyce top 105.5 mph? 'I don't see why not'
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels relief prospect Ben Joyce first turned heads pitching at the University of Tennessee, where he threw a fastball that registered 105.5 mph to set the record for the fastest pitch in college baseball history.
The Angels took him in the third round of the 2022 Draft and he excelled with Double-A Rocket City, posting a 2.08 ERA with 20 strikeouts and four walks in 13 innings. Joyce, ranked as the club’s No. 12 prospect, is in Major League camp and is expected to reach the big leagues this season.
Here’s more from Joyce as part of an MLB Pipeline Q&A:
Q. What is it like being in Major League camp for the first time?
A. “It's really exciting. Getting to be in the same locker room as these guys, getting to learn from them every day, it's been awesome. Just trying to take in as much as I can and make an impact every time I go out there.”
Q. How’s everything been feeling early in camp?
A. “My stuff has been feeling great. I feel like I'm getting pretty dialed in right now with my slider, and I think that's been a big addition this offseason. I'm excited to use it in games, and [my] fastball feels good, and then [I'm] throwing a bigger slider, as well. It feels good.”
Q. You threw 105.5 mph in college. Can you top that this year?
A. “For sure. I mean, my body feels great. This past live [BP session], I was getting up there pretty good. So I think I can get there and maybe even a little more. Everything feels great. I don’t see why not.”
Q. Can you explain your new slider and how it differs?
A. “I've had a sweeping one in the past. So they tried to get more of a harder one; it's more of a cutter action. So I'm throwing that, as well. So I'll have a fastball, cutter and then sweeping slider.”
Q. How did you feel like your first year in the Minors went last season?
A. “I feel like it was good to get my feet wet in professional baseball with the Trash Pandas. It was an awesome atmosphere there. I feel like it went pretty well. I settled in, especially towards the end. I feel like I got through really well, build up some momentum for the offseason and I'm ready to go this year.”
Q. What did you do during the offseason to get prepared?
A. “It was good. I always take the weight room really seriously. So I tried to get a little stronger, more mobility. I feel like my body is in a good position right now to pitch this year, and I think mentally [that] was a big thing for me. Just mental strength, all that stuff. Just kind of take that seriously this offseason, as well.”
Q. Do you think you can reach the Majors this year?
A. “That's a big goal of mine, just trying to make an impact as soon as possible. Definitely the faster I can get up there, the better for me. I think I'm ready to try to make an impact this year.”
Q. Any players you’ve leaned on for advice?
A. “The whole pitching staff has been awesome, super inviting for me. It's cool to get to watch them and their routines. Even position players, seeing Mike Trout go through his routine. It’s cool because I grew up watching him play. So [I can] just kind of see how they approach their day-to-day tasks and what they do to prepare their bodies every day. It's pretty cool to watch, and on the pitching side, just picking their brain, how they attack hitters, what they use pitching in certain counts. It’s pretty cool.”
Q. What have you thought of pitching coach Matt Wise and assistant pitching coach Bill Hezel?
A. “They’ve both been awesome. They're super supportive, kind of let you do your own thing, but also they're there to help you and give you as much information as you want. So it's been cool to get to start throwing bullpens and [live batting practice] with them there and have their feedback every day. It’s been awesome and I think the information they have is going to help me a lot.”
Q. How much do you use analytics?
A. "That's something I've learned a lot more about in professional baseball. We didn't use those much at Tennessee. But I've learned a lot more about it and I think it's going to help me a lot, especially just how to attack hitters with a new slider.”