CHICAGO (WHNT) – The Rocket City Trash Pandas continue to be a pipeline of baseball talent to the Los Angeles Angels with the latest pitching prospect making his MLB debut Sunday night.
A year ago to the day that his Tennessee Volunteers won the 2022 SEC Baseball Tournament championship, flame-throwing pitcher Ben Joyce made his MLB debut for the Los Angeles Angels. Joyce lived up to the expectations that have been surrounding him since he was drafted in the third round last July.
The former Trash Pandas pitcher was called from the bullpen for the seventh inning in the Angels one-run game against the Chicago White Sox.
Cool, calm and collected, Joyce worked through a high-pressured seventh inning in just 12 pitches, 11 of which were strikes. After the game, Joyce credited his ability to help the Angels hold the lead to his time spent with the Trash Pandas.
“It was good to have the experience in Huntsville at the end of game situations,” Joyce said following the outing. “That helped me kind of calm my nerves there and get re-centered and go back to attacking the strike zone.”
Joyce did not debut in an ideal situation for a rookie, but it was a situation Angels manager Phil Nevin felt he had to put Joyce in.
“Ideally, you want to have a soft landing but that’s what we had available tonight,” Nevin said. “He came in and he didn’t look like any moment was too big for him.”
Joyce started fast with a 102 MPH pitch for a strike as his first pitch which caught the eye of his manager. 11 of the 12 pitches Joyce threw were over 100 MPH, and the lone pitch under 100 MPH was an 89 MPH cutter which led to a base hit for the White Sox.
“Loved the first two pitches he threw,” Nevin said. ” Wasn’t real excited about the cutter we went to 0-2 but I think we fixed that.”
Joyce was pulled after one inning pitched, ending his debut with 12 pitches thrown, striking out 2 batters and only allowing one hit.
The Angels would go on to defeat the Chicago White Sox 6-4.
He became the second player from the 2022 MLB Draft to make his debut joining former Trash Pandas teammate and current Angels teammate Zach Neto.
Overall, Joyce is now the 19th former Rocket City Trash Pandas player to make his MLB debut.