MLB Draft doubts for Ben Joyce after viral pitch of 105.5 MPH

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Where does a record-breaking arm that may not have real collegiate precedent end up in the 2022 MLB draft?

Curiosity is high in the industry. Although Ben Joyce is likely to be drafted high, he is unlikely to be selected among the top picks.

Perhaps among the most intriguing prospects in the July draft will be Joyce, a right-hander from Tennessee who has garnered national attention since throwing a 105.5-mph fastball on Sunday, the fastest recorded pitch in collegiate history baseballs. He was just short of the all-time MLB mark of 105.8 mph set by Aroldis Chapman, and he broke a college record he set himself in March when his four-boat clocked 104 mph.

The speed is real for the redshirt junior, who has come back stronger after Tommy John’s surgery in October 2020, hitting 38 in 21 innings. But scouts want to see more from a pitcher who didn’t pitch an inning last year while rehabilitating his elbow.

The Post interviewed three scouting directors, all of whom were impressed with the arm but also had several questions, including: Tennessee’s use of Joyce, who has only served once in a row, and in which case a single-out was required in both games; why an arm that can reach 105 miles per hour doesn’t finish games; why an arm that can hit 105 miles per hour hasn’t competed against some of Tennessee’s finest rivals, including a three-game streak against Vanderbilt in early April; a lack of total innings; and why a pitcher with his speed has as much room as he does.

Ben Joyce presents on May 1, 2022.
Saul Young/News Sentinel/USA T

One of the officials, who were all granted anonymity, thought Joyce would be a first-round or second-round pick. The other two thought the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Joyce would be a second- or third-round pick, not because of questions about his arsenal but because of college auxiliary caps. One director likened college relief to NFL running backs, which are found later in drafts and often burn out faster.

Joyce’s fastball “is pretty consistent 99-103 [mph]’ said one of the executives. “But there’s more of a stigma to taking a helper in the first round and there’s a lot of time it’s used in lower-level situations.”

Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello has told reporters that Joyce may be stretched out, and he threw four innings of shutout in his record-breaking effort in Sunday’s win over Auburn. His previous high of the season was two innings.

Ben Joyce will face Baylor on March 5, 2022.
Ben Joyce will face Baylor on March 5, 2022.
Getty Images

If the volunteers allow him to continue to lengthen and he does so successfully, his draft stock would be improved.

“He’s tall and throwing 105, but I would look at the pitched innings, especially the important pitched innings and how often he even starts and finishes an inning. He’s difficult to scout,” said one of the officers. “He looks like it. The fastball is real. But thugs often hit him well.

Knoxville’s Joyce combines his fastball with a mid-’80s slider, which often draws big puffs from hitters preparing for the heat. One of the scouts said the pitch can be devastating but flat at times and he needs to work on his consistency. Joyce is also showing a changeup and has achieved an ERA of 0.86 this season.

MLB scouts have some reservations about Ben Joyce
MLB scouts have some reservations about Ben Joyce
Saul Young/News Sentinel/USA T

There may not be a true analogue for Joyce’s arm, but it could follow the professional arc of Garrett Crochet, another volunteer with triple-digit heat. The White Sox made the lefty the 11th overall pick in the 2020 freshman draft player, and three months later Crochet pitched in the majors. If Joyce remains a helper used in bursts, he could be taken to the majors.

Crochet, who is missing this season due to Tommy John’s surgery, is seen as a possible future starter, which boosted his value. Teams weighing Joyce’s draft stocks will wonder if there’s a rotation on the top of a college arm like no other.

https://nypost.com/2022/05/06/mlb-draft-doubts-for-ben-joyce-after-105-5-mph-viral-pitch/ MLB Draft doubts for Ben Joyce after viral pitch of 105.5 MPH

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