If you follow Pitching Ninja on Twitter, you’ve probably seen a Ben Joyce fastball. It looks a bit like this:
Ben Joyce 104mph Fastball (Home Plate View) pic.twitter.com/ho7f0kHhVw
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 29, 2022
That pitch was at 104 mph, but he threw it even harder. One of his fastballs hit 105.5 mph. Had it been thrown in the majors, it would have been the second fastest pitch ever recorded in MLB history. So he decided on the toughest pitch in college baseball history.
Ben Joyce’s 105.5 MPH Fastball. pic.twitter.com/4a2R8iMw1A
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 1, 2022
The Tennessee reliever has been using that red-hot fastball all season against overwhelmed SEC batters. Now he and the senior volunteers are in the NCAA baseball tournament Super Regionals and appear to be as dominant as any team in college baseball that has the best chance of making the Men’s College World Series.
What should you know about Joyce as the Volunteers hit their postseason run? The Sporting News has you covered.
Ben Joyce’s surgery on Tommy John
Joyce burst onto the college baseball scene in 2022, but this will likely be the only season fans will see him play at the collegiate level.
How could he leave so early? Well, he’s not a newbie. Joyce enrolled at Walters State Community College in 2019 and first performed in spring 2020, but he felt a blast in fall 2020, according to NCAA.com. Just a year after his twin brother Zach’s surgery at Tommy John’s, Ben was about to have the surgery too.
Joyce had transferred from Walters State to Tennessee after the 2020 season ended, but the fall injury saw him miss the entire spring season with the Volunteers in 2021. He picked up a redshirt for the year as he began working his way back from the Injury.
It wasn’t until February 20, 2022 that Joyce would make his Tennessee debut, serving a third of an innings against Georgia Southern. He recorded the out.
How did he turn around and find speed so quickly after not pitching since 2020?
“Ben didn’t [years of pitching] on his arm. He’s fresh,” his father, Alan Joyce, told NCAA.com. “That’s my theory on all of this.”
Ben Joyce in high school
Before the 2022 season, Joyce had served in Knoxville. It just wasn’t for the volunteers.
Joyce attended Farragut High School in Knoxville, where he was a star on the hill. Though his fastball was still overwhelming in high school, Perfect Game ranked him the 81st best player in the state.
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Joyce almost didn’t even make his varsity baseball team and he didn’t serve as a junior after having an eight-inch growth spurt that caused problems. He pitched only 24 innings his senior year and had few Division II schools to show interest in him.
“I kind of got lucky when I got into Walters State,” Joyce told the paper. “I didn’t really have much of a high school career.”
Ben Joyce Statistics
Fresh from surgery, Joyce blinded in the Volunteer Bullpen. He has a 2.48 ERA, a .93 WHIP, a .155 batting average and 48 strikeouts and 11 walks in 29 innings.
But perhaps the most surprising thing about Joyce is that he might not even be the Vols’ best helper. Kirby Connell and Mark McLaughlin have ERAs of 1.08 and 1.53, respectively. Redmond Walsh leads the team with seven saves. Camden Sewell has served the most innings of any reliever with 48.
Joyce was put to the test as a starter when he opened the May 14 game against Georgia. The results were mixed. He went through four innings, giving up three runs – two homers – with six strikeouts, two walks and three hits.
It was the second time he had pitched this long, having previously pitched four innings for relief against Auburn, where he conceded just one hit and no runs or walks with six strikeouts to pick up the win. During this relief effort he reached 105.5. He also hit at least 103 mph 28 times. He only threw 33 fastballs.
Ben Joyce MLB draft
Joyce is perhaps the hardest-throwing pitcher in MLB draft history. But he’s also a helper, which doesn’t give him the same level of advantage shown by other hard pitchers like Hunter Greene, who was a starter and became the Reds’ No. 2 overall in 2017.
MLB Pipeline lists him as a No. 116 draft prospect in the 2022 class and Baseball America has him listed at No. 131.
MLB Pipeline and Baseball America give his fastball an 80 on a scouting scale of 20 to 80. MLB Pipeline praised his slider’s swing-and-miss ability but said he needed to make better use of it. It gave him 50 marks for the slider and changeup, but 45 marks for his control.
Baseball America also said he needs to improve his control and that he relies heavily on his fastball.