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Wantagh's Jimmy Joyce drafted by Seattle Mariners

Joyce starred on the mound for Hofstra this spring

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Former Wantagh High School baseball star and Hofstra University senior Jimmy Joyce was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 16th round of the 2021 Major League Baseball Draft.

Joyce, who helped Wantagh capture consecutive Nassau Class A championships as a pitcher/third baseman and won the Diamond Award as the best positional player in the county as a senior in 2017, was the 474th overall pick in the draft.

“I thought I had a 50-50 chance to get drafted and I’m extremely grateful,” Joyce said. “There were only 20 rounds this year so it was getting late but I kept the faith. It’s a wild feeling, that’s for sure.”

In upstate New York for summer ball while the draft was being held, Joyce was working out Tuesday afternoon with some friends, including University of Maryland-Baltimore County’s Keegan Leffler, who broke the news while following the draft tracker on his phone. “I got the call from the Mariners just a few seconds after Keegan saw it,” Joyce said. “Then my phone just started blowing up immediately with calls and texts. I took a few quick calls and then I called my family.”

Joyce is Hofstra’s 14th-ever MLB Draft selection. It marks the third time in the last four years the Pride had at least one player chosen in the draft with a total of five players picked over the last four drafts. He earned All-Colonial Athletic Association Second Team honors as a pitcher this season and was an All-CAA Second Team honoree as a utility player in 2019.

Joyce made 42 appearances on the mound for the Pride during his career with 15 starts. He earned six victories. All 11 of his appearances this spring came as a starter and he pitched a career-best 73 innings in 2021. He tallied double-digit strikeouts in five of his last six starts and had 89 of his 125 career strikeouts this year with a 3.70 ERA.

“Jimmy has a closer’s mentality of toughness but really found his niche as a starter,” recently retired Hofstra coach John Russo said. “I never worried about a pitch count with him because I knew how well he prepared."

Russo said the Mariners were one of five teams to contact him over the past few months to discuss Joyce. “Seattle is getting a classy kid with high character,” Russo said. “Analytics are a big part of professional sports these days and Jimmy’s analytics are strong. I got the feeling a handful of teams really liked him.”

Joyce joined Bill Cheslock (1966), Ken Singleton (1967), Donald Ruris (1967), Pat Wallace (1982), Mike Miller (1995), Ricky Caputo (2006), Ethan Paquette (2010), Danny Poma (2012), Bryan Verbitsky (2013), John Rooney (2018), Teddy Cillis (2018), Parker Quinn (2019) and Vito Friscia (2019) as Hofstra players selected in the MLB Draft since its inception in 1965. 

Joyce was a three-sport athlete at Wantagh and was part of its 2016 Long Island championship football team as a senior. He won a baseball state championship as a junior, pitching a one-hitter in the state semifinals and hitting a walk-off home run in the title game. As a senior on the diamond, he went 9-2 on the mound with a 1.27 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 66 innings and helped lead the Warriors to state runner-up status. He starred at third base on non-pitching days and hit .495 with six home runs, 39 RBIs, 40 runs, and 11 steals in 11 attempts.

“Jimmy is such an unbelievable person and athlete,” Wantagh baseball and football coach Keith Sachs said. “He’s a hard worker, humble and a tremendous leader. He’s the complete package.”

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