Joyce, Angels' No. 4 prospect, recalled for 2nd stint in Majors

June 2nd, 2024

SEATTLE -- Hard-throwing relief prospect , who possesses one of the highest-velocity fastballs in baseball, is back in the Majors. The Angels recalled Joyce from Double-A Rocket City before Sunday’s 5-1 loss to the Mariners at T-Mobile Park, as he replaced lefty Reid Detmers after he was optioned Saturday.

Joyce, ranked as the club’s No. 4 prospect by MLB Pipeline, posted a 4.26 ERA with 34 strikeouts and 11 walks in 19 innings at Double-A Rocket City to earn the promotion. He didn’t see action in the series finale, as right-hander Griffin Canning went deep into the game and allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings before the bullpen imploded in the eighth. Joyce also dealt with a flight delay on his trip from Birmingham, Ala. and arrived late in the game. But he’s likely to make his season debut against the Padres this week.

“It’s obviously very exciting,” Joyce said. “It's been something that I've been striving for all year. Just trying to make that jump. I think just the way I've been throwing, I feel really good and it's just exciting that all the hard work is paying off that I've been putting in for the last few months.”

Manager Ron Washington said the reports were solid on Joyce, who has made improvements over the last month with his command, which is his biggest issue.

“He was much better than he was last year when he came up here and much better than what he showed in Spring Training,” Washington said. “He got his opportunity because of what we had to do with Detmers. Hopefully, he’ll come up here and fill the strike zone up. But they told me he can pitch multiple innings and go back-to-back, so he’s ready to go.”

Joyce, 23, has been on an impressive stretch, posting a 1.59 ERA with 21 strikeouts and three walks in 11 1/3 innings since May 4. His control has been an issue in the past, so it’s a good sign he’s been able to cut down on his walks in recent outings.

“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, got his first taste of the Majors last year. He made 12 appearances, registering a 5.40 ERA with 10 strikeouts and nine walks in 10 innings.

His four-seam fastball, which reached as high as 104 mph in college, averaged 100.9 mph. He also threw a slider and a sweeper as his offspeed package.

But competing for a spot in the bullpen in Spring Training, he struggled with command. Joyce had an 8.59 ERA with six strikeouts and nine walks in 7 1/3 innings.

Washington loved Joyce’s stuff in spring but said he was still learning to harness it and improved his command in the Minors this season.

“I certainly loved his arm,” Washington said. “There were a few visits I made to the mound to try to motivate him to trust in his stuff and throw it over the plate. But 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.”

With Joyce in the mix, the Angels have an extra reliever in their bullpen and will have to decide who will replace Detmers in the rotation. There’s an off-day on Thursday, so they could stick to a four-man rotation in the short-term before making a decision.

Right-hander Chase Silseth, who has been out since April 7 with right elbow inflammation, could be a candidate once he finishes his rehab assignment. He threw three innings in the Arizona Complex League on Friday and is scheduled to throw four more on Thursday. There’s a chance they could activate him after just two rehab starts, but the Angels are weighing their options.

“We’ve got to get him to the point where he can throw 90 pitches,” Washington said. “But he’s in the mix.”