After receiving the call-up on Sunday morning, Knoxville native and former Tennessee pitcher Ben Joyce made his Major League Baseball debut on Monday night. Joyce’s Los Angeles Angels were taking on the Chicago White Sox in the Windy City when the “Volunteer Fireman”, as he was nicknamed in Knoxville, started warming up in the bullpen towards the end of the game.
Joyce officially made his debut on the mound in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Angels held a 4-3 lead over the White Sox.
Despite it being the first time on a major league mound, away from the home fans nonetheless, Joyce approached each batter like a veteran in the league. Cool, calm, and comfortable, Joyce made the opposing batters anything but. Without any prior knowledge of Joyce to go off of, the White Sox’s batters looked routinely frustrated and confused as pitches of 100+ MPH were zooming over the plate.
The movement and speed that Joyce had on the fastball, again, looked far more like a veteran than a rookie. While only pitching one inning, Joyce struck out two batters on sinkers that were clocked at 101.8 mph and 100.6 mph.
“It felt awesome. I felt very comfortable – a lot more comfortable than I thought I’d feel,” Joyce said via MLB.com’s Tim Stebbins after the game. “Just went out and trusted my stuff and threw strikes, and it worked out. It was an amazing feeling.”
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Ten of Joyce’s 12 pitches in the seventh inning went for strikes. Besides an 89 MPH off-speed pitch in the inning, all 11 of Joyce’s other pitches cleared triple-digits on the radar, which is an incredibly impressive position to be in.
During the 2022 college baseball season, Joyce had the whole baseball world’s attention after recording the fastest pitch in college baseball history at 105.5 MPH. Now, just about a year later, Joyce is still throwing his heat and striking out professional batters in the process.
The fastest pitch that Joyce dealt on Monday came in at 102.2 MPH. The former Tennessee standout ended his MLB debut with a line of one inning pitched, one hit, zero runs, and two strikeouts.
According to MLB and Stebbins, Joyce’s whole family – mother, father, brother, girlfriend, and girlfriend’s family – were all in attendance in Chicago on Monday night. Zach Joyce, Ben’s brother, is a pitcher for the Tennessee baseball team. MLB also states that Joyce was given the lineup card after the game during a big postgame celebration with his teammates.