Who is Ben Joyce? Everything to know about the Los Angeles Angels pitching prospect
The former Tennessee flamethrower is still setting the baseball world on fire from Anaheim as Ben Joyce gets called up by the Angels.
Let’s face it, the Angels need all the help they can get. Slipping to six games back in the AL West, they are clinging to a half game lead on Seattle.
With as formidable a hitting attack as any team in MLB, Los Angeles’ weak spot so far this season has been their hot/cold bullpen. But they have added some pepper to it by calling up Ben Joyce from Double A.
The 22-year-old Knoxville, Tennessee native first came to national attention just over a year ago when pitching for the Volunteers. After setting the NCAA record with a 104.1 mph pitch, he topped that just a month later when he threw a pitch that was clocked at 105.5 mph. Not only was that then the fastest pitch ever thrown in NCAA baseball, but it was the second fastest pitch ever thrown in baseball at any level period.
Just a few weeks later, the Angels selected Joyce in the third round of the draft, giving him a $1 million signing bonus and assigning him to the Double A Rocket City Trash Pandas, meaning that the Tennessee boy would play just about a three-hour drive from home, across the border in Alabama.
Joyce played JuCo ball before heading to Tennessee and had Tommy John surgery in fall 2020. He missed all of the 2021 season before coming back blazing in 2022. While coming back from Tommy John is becoming more common (just look at Justin Verlander for proof) it is a sign of the worry that every pitcher has, particularly those who throw such extreme speeds. Namely, can their arm hold out.
For now, Ben Joyce is enjoying his time in the Show, after getting called up on Monday night and making his debut against the White Sox in a game that was already emotionally charged. Chicago saw the return of Liam Hendriks after the all clear from cancer, and amid the hustle and bustle, Los Angeles called on Ben Joyce to get them through the seventh inning.
Joyce threw the 11 fastest pitches thrown in that game topping out at 102. Only one pitch that he threw did not reach 100 mph and it was an 89 mph breaking ball. Joyce got out of the inning, striking out two and getting a fly out to left.
“It felt awesome. I felt very comfortable, a lot more comfortable than I thought I’d feel,” said Joyce. “Just went out and trusted my stuff and threw strikes, and it worked out. It was an amazing feeling.”
Ben has a twin brother Zach, who also pitches for Tennessee. He had taken some time out of baseball for Tommy John surgery and mental health issues, but completes his junior season and will be back in 2024.