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Angels prospect Ben Joyce strikes out two in Major League debut

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CHICAGO – Angels manager Phil Nevin said in a pregame media session Monday that there is a “great chance” Ben Joyce will make his major league debut later that night.

Whether or not Nevin was prepared for the situation called for by the 22-year-old flamethrower, the club’s No. 9 contender responded like a ten-year veteran.

Called up from Double-A Rocket City on Sunday, Joyce pitched in the seventh inning as the Angels held a one-run lead over the White Sox. He threw a triple-digit fastball followed by a triple-digit fastball while striking out two hitters without allowing a run in Los Angeles’ 6-4 win at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“Ideally, yes, we would like to have a soft landing,” said Nevin. “But well, that was what was available tonight. [Joyce] Coming in, no moment seemed too big for him. ”

When Nevin called Joyce’s number to relieve starter Griffin Canning, the Angels scored all four points in the top of the first inning to lead 4-3. In a moment like that, it would be easy for any pitcher, let alone a rookie drafted less than a year ago, to play their best.

Before the frame, catcher Matt Tice greeted Joyce on the mound as he arrived from the bullpen and was impressed with the attitude of his right-hander.

Theis said Joyce was “very cool, cool, cool,” adding that he did the same in Sam Bachman’s debut last week. “It’s my first big league trip. If you’re a position player, it’s like hiding in a nine. When you’re the pitcher, everyone’s eyes are on you and you have the ball.”

“I felt great. It was very comfortable, much more comfortable than I expected,” Joyce said. “I just went out and believed in myself and threw a strike and it worked. It felt great.”

Joyce Who once recorded a speed of 165.5 mph Along with the University of Tennessee, opened fire. He threw 10 of his 12 pitches for strikes, with 11 sinkers and 1 cutter. His sinker had a top speed of 162.2 mph and an average speed of 161.3 mph.

Apart from the 89.3 mph cutter, the slowest pitch he threw was the 160.2 mph sinker.

Joyce’s first pitch to Andrew Vaughn, who had hit a home run earlier in the third inning, was a strike with a 162 mph sinker. He drove another 160.3 mph sinker into the outside corner of Strike 2.

Joyce’s third pitch was a cutter in the same spot, and Vaughn lined it left and hit a base.

Nevin joked: “The first two pitches he threw were good.

That’s right. Gavin Sheets was next, and Joyce threw four sinkers to strike out for the first time in his career. They clocked 101.8, 100.7, 100.2 and 161.8 mph. Romy González suffered the same fate, striking out at 101.5, 101.6, 101.2, and 100.6.

“It’s very solid. What’s more impressive is how much he stretches,” Theis said of catching the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Joyce. “He’s a big guy. [mph]”

Joyce clocked 162.2 mph on his last pitch and sinker Yasmani Grandal harmlessly flew to left field.

He said he’s always excited to throw, and that a few late-game appearances at Rocket City certainly proved beneficial on Monday.

“It calmed me down and allowed me to focus and get back to attacking the strike zone,” said Joyce.

Joyce and Chris Devenski kept two scoreless innings and Carlos Estevez made a save after giving up one in the ninth to help Canning get off to a quality start. Canning struck out nine batters in six innings, the most of the season, giving up six hits and three runs, including two solo homers.

Joyce’s mother, father, brother, girlfriend and girlfriend’s family were in attendance for Monday’s game. After the game, the Angels celebrated him at the clubhouse, and Joyce was presented with a lineup card—a memento he’d always dreamed of receiving.

A conversation with his mother on Monday morning was also an incredible reminder. From a year ago to today, Joyce pitched for Tennessee in the SEC Tournament championship game. Joyce allowed two runs on a home run, but the Volantes won 8-5.

“Now I’m in the big leagues,” he said. “It’s pretty crazy when you think about it.”

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