Position: Outfielder Height: 6-2 Weight: 185
Born: 8/3/1984 Bats: Right Throws: Right
Joyce was a player the Tigers were plenty familiar with heading into the 2005 draft. Each spring, the Tigers play Joyce's alma mater, Florida Southern, in a game to kickoff spring training. Matt had done enough in those brief stints in front of the Tiger brass, and during his three year collegiate career to garner plenty of interest from David Chadd and the rest of the scouting department. After finishing his collegiate career with a .306/.397/.490 line, Joyce didn't waste any time getting in the groove at short-season Oneonta. In 65 games as the everyday left fielder for the O-Tigers, he posted a .331/.397/.453 line, probably the best line for an Oneonta regular since Curtis Granderson won MVP honors in 2002.
Saying the Joyce's season at Oneonta last year was similar to Granderson's is more than just a statistical comparison. Much like the views of Granderson at the time he joined the organization, Joyce is a player who does not have one exceptional tool; but rather a full compliment of solid, average tools. Joyce has above average speed, accented by very good instincts, and a desire to do anything he can to succeed. He is a good fielder with a strong arm in the outfield, and he takes proper routes to balls hit to all parts of the field. At the plate, Matt has exceptional hand-eye coordination that allows him to control the strike zone and keep strikeouts to a minimum. Unlike many players with his level of coordination, Joyce has no problem laying off borderline pitches and taking walks. His frame is slight and he must add strength to continue hitting for power at the professional level, but he does have room to fill out and add strength without becoming bulky. At present, Joyce likely has the speed to handle center on an everyday basis, but as he fills out, he is likely to lose speed and be forced to either outfield corner.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% SS-A
Joyce has been completely healthy throughout his collegiate and brief professional careers.
After Curtis Granderson posted similar numbers in 2002, the Tigers shot him straight up to High-A Lakeland, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that the Tigers do the same with Joyce. Matt is a mature player who simply must add strength to take the next step in his game and skipping the Midwest League would not be that tough for him. It's a bit of a long shot that the Tigers will be that aggressive with Joyce, but he could likely handle it. Either way, Matt is an intriguing young player who the Tigers feel was a steal in the draft. He has the potential to develop into a very good corner outfielder, and such a strong work ethic, that he is likely to reach that potential. In a system bereft of top-notch outfield prospects, Joyce has the opportunity to move quickly while remaining in the shadows of fellow 2005 draftee Cameron Maybin.
Mark Anderson covers the Tigers' minor league system and all of minor league baseball for TigsTown.com. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.