Boyle relishes Classic invite

Photo: Perfect Game

Blake Dowson
Published: Friday, July 29, 2016

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Big-bodied pitchers usually get a long, hard look from people in the baseball business. There is so much to love about guys that are 6-foot-5 or taller and can really light up a radar gun. Evaluators often see potential more than anything else with big guys like that, thinking they can develop them into plus-armed hurlers in the professional ranks.

Joe Boyle is one of those big-bodied pitchers, standing at 6-foot-6 and 225-pounds, but he doesn’t necessarily fit the description of a big kid with raw power that looks promising to develop. Boyle has shown good command of the strike zone during his travel ball career that has included stops at both the PG National and Jr. National Showcases, and his ability to pepper the zone with a fastball that has touched 96 on the gun earned him a spot in the Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego on Aug. 14.

“I was pretty ecstatic when I got the call,” Boyle said. “I had just got done pitching down in Atlanta in a Perfect Game tournament. I’m just really, really honored to play in the Classic. It’s a game I watch every year, and the guys that play each year pretty much all get drafted.

“I didn’t really have any expectations to play in [the Classic.] When I went to the National Showcase I just wanted to compete against the best players in the country. I didn’t think it was in my realm to go out there to San Diego, but I’m really excited to show what I’ve got.”

Of course, there is a reason why so many tall pitchers like Boyle are seen as projects instead of finished products. It is much harder for taller pitchers to repeat their mechanics on the mound, making velocity and command much more inconsistent. There are naturally going to be more moving parts in a big pitcher’s delivery, thus harder to replicate time and time again.

And although Boyle himself will admit that he is far from a finished product, it’s a testament to his work ethic and attention to detail that he doesn’t often go through the command issues that sometimes plague physically imposing pitchers. Scouts have mentioned how he does a pretty good job of commanding the zone, but when asked what he needed to improve most in his game, Boyle said it was his command. When a pitcher can hit 96 on the radar gun, you can look towards other things to tweak.

“Repeating mechanics is one of the toughest things to do. Being able to control your body with all those moving parts takes a lot of work,” Boyle said. “I just try to have the same release point every single time, and work on my flat work and bullpens as much as possible.”

Where he stands right now, with that fastball that has touched 96 and regularly sits between 92-93, along with the solid 6-foot-6 frame, Perfect Game has Boyle ranked as the No. 38 overall prospect for the 2017 MLB First-Year Player Draft. If you narrow down the rankings to players graduating high school in 2017, he is the No. 21 overall prospect, and the No. 7 righthanded hurler.

The reasons are obvious. His frame looks like there is still room for growth in it, making evaluators lick their lips a little more thinking about the endless possibilities with the young man.

When Boyle is placing his fastball in the lower-third portion of the plate with the trajectory he throws the ball at, it’s impossible for hitters to get good wood on. Say Boyle adds another inch onto his frame and another two or three miles per hour on his fastball (that has a bit of a cutting action as well) and it is possible that he ends up hearing his name called in the first round of the draft next June.

The draft seems a long ways away for Doyle though, who is committed to play at Notre Dame for coach Mik Aoki.

“[Notre Dame] started recruiting me last summer when they saw me at a couple tournaments,” Boyle said. “I took a visit on Aug. 2 last summer and then committed to play there. The academics were a big reason. Notre Dame is such a prestigious school, and I fell in love with the campus and the coaching staff as well.”

Being recruited by big-time Division I baseball programs and being selected to play in the All-American Classic has been a whirlwind for Boyle, who admitted he didn’t even watch very much baseball until he was in middle school.

Nonetheless, he said he could not be more excited to take the trip out to San Diego and be a part of the festivities that go along with the Classic and the great competition the game fields each season.

As far as goals for the game, Boyle realizes the opportunity he has in front of him. It’s one more chance to perform well in front of scouts and the large number of fans in attendance and watching on TV. Look for him to pound hitters with the fastball, and then continue to pound hitters with it. It’s his favorite pitch to throw, and why not when his arm looks like a catapult coming towards guys in the batters box.

“I love to attack hitters with my fastball,” Boyle said, his excitement talking about his repertoire shining through the interview conducted over the phone. “My curveball is a close second though…[I’m confident] in being able to select my pitches and how to attack the hitters.”

As much as Boyle would love to go out and dominate on the mound on Aug. 14, he realizes that the Classic is much more than a baseball game. He said he is most looking forward to spending time with the kids in Rady Children’s Hospital, the event’s beneficiary of the proceeds from the All-American Classic.

“I’m really looking forward to working with the kids. I’ve already started raising money,” Boyle said. “Perfect Game does such an awesome job helping with that and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it.”

In the 13 years since the event’s inception, Perfect Game has raised more than $900,000 towards pediatric cancer research and treatment.

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