What to Expect from Angels Relief Pitcher Ben Joyce

Ben Joyce of the Los Angeles Angels

One year after Ben Joyce turned heads in the SEC, the flamethrowing right-hander is set to make his MLB debut. So, what should Angels — and baseball fans, in general — expect from the 22-year-old reliever? Let’s take a closer look at Joyce.

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A Look at Joyce

Twenty-two-year-old reliver Ben Joyce is set to make his MLB debut just one year after the former Tennessee Volunteer became a social media sensation. Joyce skyrocketed up draft boards last spring after a dominant 2022 season, in which the righty struck out 53 over 32.1 innings pitched (27 GP). Those numbers don’t tell the whole story about Joyce, who routinely hit the triple digits with his plus-plus fastball and actually threw as high as 105.5 MPH — the hardest pitch ever recorded in the college baseball scene.

The Angels selected Joyce in the third round of the 2022 MLB Draft. It’s become more common for MLB teams to select relievers in the early rounds of the Draft in recent years. Several examples include former 2020 second-round pick Burl Carraway and former first-round pick Corey Knebel. Given Joyce’s stuff, it’s not a shock that Joyce joined those names.

Joyce’s arsenal is comprised of his aforementioned fastball and a very impressive slider he can pair it with. Couple that arsenal with a low, yet deceptive arm angle, and it won’t be easy for hitters to pick him up. However, command will be critical to Joyce’s success — something that can be said of a lot of young hurlers. Joyce’s control and command has not been great, however, in the 2023 season.

With Rocket City (AA), Joyce gave up just seven hits over 15.2 IP. However, he’s walked 13 batters in that time span, just one less than he walked all of last season with the Volunteers.

Joyce will become just the second player from the 2022 MLB Draft to reach the Majors. The other was Zach Neto, also a member of the Angels. Neto made his MLB debut this past April.

A Look at the Angels Bullpen and 2023 Fantasy Outlook

Just from looking at Joyce’s fastball and slider, it’s not hard to imagine the powerful right-hander as a MLB closer someday. That day will likely not come in 2023, however. Closer Carlos Estevez has been as advertised this season after a rocky spring, while LHP Matt Moore came into the day on May 28 with a 1.44 ERA over his first 22 games as an Angel. Fellow relievers Chris Devenski and Jaime Barria have also been reliable.

But despite the fact that the Angels have three relievers (Estevez, Moore, Barria) in the top 18 of the league in ERA, the team’s bullpen hasn’t exactly been rock solid. Aaron Loup, Tucker Davidson, and Chase Silseth have all struggled, while veteran Ryan Tepera was DFA’d earlier in the year after a brutal start.

Anaheim did give former first-round pick Sam Bachman his first MLB appearance out of the bullpen this week to mixed results. Bachman struck out four over two innings in his first outing on May 26, but walked two.

Joyce is a bit similar to Bachman, in the sense that both possess power stuff but struggle to command it. But if Joyce can be consistent with his release point and execution, the Angels might have quite the weapon in the pen.

As far as fantasy goes, Joyce could be a sneaky “vulture” save option in the near future, but will likely not be a factor for saves just yet. In fact, it’s not a given that Joyce sticks in the Majors, given what he did in the Minors this season.

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