Longhorn Baseball 2022 Preview
College baseball’s following has increased early in the 2022 season due, at least in part, to the MLB lockout.
Tennessee junior pitcher Ben Joyce caught the attention of the whole baseball world on Wednesday when the Knoxville native threw 10 pitches 101 mph or more against UNC-Asheville.
That type of performance would turn heads in the major leagues, but in college, Joyce’s performance made everyone in the baseball world pause to take in what they were witnessing.
Media personality Rob Friedman — also known as PitchingNinja — tweeted a pair of videos from Joyce’s outing that blew up on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.
Ben Joyce's Ridiculous Outing. 🔥🔥⛽️⛽️
Basically, 101-103mph with a 98mph BP fastball thrown in for the F of it. 😳 pic.twitter.com/V8m0AFEERP
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) February 24, 2022
Blown away reactions followed, mostly similar to this message from Cubs’ beat writer Brett Taylor.
“I’m sorry, a college pitcher did WHAT in February?!?”
Joyce’s second Tennessee performance was fantastic, allowing a double and striking out two batters in one inning. The redshirt-junior through 15 pitches and 12 strikes, pounding the zone with his dominant fastball while using a slider and changeup.
Despite the head-turning fastball, Joyce was most pleased with the success he had with his 90 mph changeup, including getting a swing strike for the final out of his inning.
“Honestly the changeup,” Joyce said of if he was more pleased with his fastball or changeup. “That’s been a big thing I’ve been working on with coach Anderson. It was kind of a pitch we were trying to develop coming back from Tommy John rehab. I think I take more pride in the changeup at the end of the day.”
Joyce has been one of Tennessee’s hidden talents over the last year. The Vols signed Joyce in the 2020 class out of Walters State, but the right-hander suffered an elbow injury that required Tommy John’s surgery in the fall of 2020.
The former Farragut High School standout impressed in practice opportunities, but Tony Vitello has tapered expectations for the flame-thrower due to his lack of experience.
While the surgery delayed his Tennessee debut, Joyce’s velocity is up since going through the elbow surgery.
“I was up to a 100 a couple times before the surgery,” Joyce said. “I think I was sitting mid 90s before the surgery. I think working with Q(Quentin Eberhardt) before he left and Woody with the rehab helped me gain a little extra after that.”
Against UNC-Asheville, Joyce’s fastball around 102 mph and the redshirt-junior hit 103 mph twice on the radar gun at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Most would expect the radar gun to be running hot with those absurd numbers, but the official radar had Joyce’s fastball even faster on a couple occasions.
— Callum (@callum_vol) February 24, 2022
What Joyce’s role will be this season is still up in the air, but the Knoxville native has hit the ground running.
The Vols return to the field for a three-game this weekend at Lindsey Nelson Stadium against Iona.