Tennessee Vols right-handed pitcher Ben Joyce was named by CBS Sports this week as the most polarizing player in the 2022 MLB Draft.
Joyce, an East Tennessee native, became a household name this past season thanks to his insane ability to routinely throw over 100 MPH.
The soon-to-be former Vol threw one of the fastest pitches ever in a baseball game — a ridiculous 105 MPH fastball.
Joyce is expected to be drafted in the early rounds of next month’s draft, but opinions on where he’ll be drafted vary. He only started one game for Tennessee, due to his return to Tommy John surgery and Vols head coach Tony Vitello’s insistence on not overloading Joyce and potentially harming his career long-term. As a result, Joyce is viewed as a relief pitcher. And relief pitchers aren’t typically drafted in the first round.
Here’s what CBS Sports has to say:
Joyce is going to break some models, and, potentially, some mock drafts. He has a monster fastball and slider, with 43 of the former checking in at 100 mph or above during the NCAA tournament. (He topped out at, um, 105 mph during the regular season.) His heater also features good rise and is delivered from a lower arm slot, a sought-after combination these days. Teams who attempt to quantify stuff — i.e., all of them — are going to have trouble containing their excitement at what Joyce brings to the table. He’s on here anyway because there’s never been a consensus on how early is too early to take a reliever, and because teams will have drastically different timetables on when they’d expect him to reach the majors. Keep in mind, he’s thrown just 32 innings over the last two seasons due to his role and his past Tommy John surgery. A team who thinks he could reach the majors soon, perhaps even this year, might be tempted to draft him earlier than anyone else would entertain.
We might see a team that needs bullpen help jump up and take Joyce early. His stuff will play in MLB right now. And he showed enough control and ability to mix pitches that I think he could quickly find success in the big leagues. It doesn’t happen often that a player is drafted and debuts the same year, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see that happen with Joyce this year.
We’ll see how things turn out next month when the draft gets underway, but Joyce should expect to hear his name called by no later then the third round.
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