Get to know Angels Day 2 pick Ben Joyce

June 22nd, 2022

In the age of velocity, you won't find many pitchers anywhere who throw harder than Tennessee Volunteers reliever Ben Joyce. Here is what you need to know about this fireballing right-hander.

Primary position:
Height/weight: 6-foot-5, 225 lbs.
Bats/throws: Right/right
Birthdate: Sept. 17, 2000 (Age 21 in 2022)
College: Tennessee
High school: Farragut High School (Knoxville, Tenn.)
Born: Knoxville, Tenn.

His fastball is a viral sensation

After spending two seasons at a junior college and then missing the Vols' 2021 campaign due to Tommy John surgery, Joyce finally played in his first Division I game as a redshirt junior this spring. He became a must-see phenomenon almost instantly.

Facing UNC Asheville in his second appearance of the season, Joyce hit 103 mph on the radar gun multiple times -- and he has continued to sit in that range with his fastball ever since. Only six MLB pitchers have thrown a pitch that fast since the advent of Statcast in 2015. This overwhelming power has made Joyce the frequent subject of some eye-popping video clips on social media.

But his pièce de résistance came a little later in the season.

Baseball's fastest NFT

Aroldis Chapman.

That's the complete list of MLB pitchers who have thrown a pitch exceeding 105.0 mph. And that's what Joyce accomplished against the Auburn Tigers on May 1, when he unleashed a ball at 105.5 mph. In a true sign of the times, the pitch was commemorated as a non-fungible token soon thereafter.

No letting up

That standout fastball against Auburn came during a dominant four-inning outing. Although most of his appearances have been of the one- or two-inning variety, Joyce has showcased his ability to maintain his high velocity over longer stints.

All but five of his 33 fastballs versus the Tigers were tracked at 103 mph or higher. Joyce made his first career start on May 14 against Georgia, throwing 67 pitches over four innings. All 44 of his fastballs reached 100 mph, and 20 more cracked 103 mph. Joyce then tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings in a Super Regional game against Notre Dame on June 10. Of his 64 pitches, at least 29 registered at 101 mph or higher.

What else do you have?

A lot of pitchers throw hard. They can get hit hard, too. Joyce isn't invincible either; he served up five homers through his first 29 2/3 innings this season. But Joyce offers more than just heat. His next-best pitch is a low-90s changeup that he grips like a splitter and can throw with the same arm speed as his fastball. Joyce's slider is a work in progress, as he told The Athletic in March.

Joyce's control has received a 45 grade from MLB Pipeline on the 20-to-80 scouting scale. Refining those secondary pitches and his ability to spot them properly are critical to Joyce's success at the next level.

A physical transformation

Joyce has the frame of a prototypical power pitcher -- 6-foot-5, 225 pounds. He looks the part. But just a few years ago, Joyce looked nothing like he does today. He entered high school at just 5-foot-4 and maybe 100 pounds. By the start of his senior year, Joyce had sprouted up to 6-foot-1. However, that rapid growth brought unbearable pain and forced Joyce -- as well as his twin brother, Zach -- to halt playing baseball for weeks at a time at the behest of his family's physician.

Even though he touched 100 mph while in high school, those gaps of inactivity led to Ben not being highly recruited. He landed at Walters State Community College, about 45 minutes from Knoxville and where he grew four more inches over the next two years before transferring to the University of Tennessee.