Bryce Jarvis missed out on a chance to go to the College World Series. But on June 10, he was able to experience a moment that most baseball players will only ever dream about.
After a three-year college career, Jarvis went 18th overall in the MLB Draft to the Arizona Diamondbacks, becoming the highest-drafted Duke baseball player ever. Prior to the arrival of friends and family for the watch party, Jarvis tried to stay busy working out to avoid thinking of the draft. But when the time came and the Diamondbacks called him to break the news that he was going to be their first-round pick, the All-American had to hold in a burning desire to smile.
“I got the call, it was just a couple seconds before the pick came in, and I came in and I made eye contact with my dad and told him this is the one. I didn’t really want to tip my hand to the rest of the room. I kind of wanted them to find out in real time, so tried to keep a straight face for those 20 or 30 seconds,” Jarvis said. “It was all just a blur. Super excited. Super validated. All the work I put in over the last year to have my name called in the first round—it’s very special.”
Jarvis is in an interesting situation. With the current state of Major League Baseball, there is no indication as to how this season is going to look. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and the MLBPA have been in heated negotiations for months, but little headway has been made. The most likely scenario is some form of a shortened season, which Jarvis sees as an opportunity for himself.
“I feel like, if needed, I could help a big-league team this year with a shortened season. A team might get off to a hot start and might want to make a run at things this year,” Jarvis said. “I think I can definitely help a program make that run.”
While his approach may seem overambitious, there is some evidence that supports it. The 22-year-old has an in-depth understanding of next generation pitching technology, such as Rapsodo, and has learned how to tinker with every one of his pitches to make them most effective. He now has big-league velocity on his fastball and four pitches that he can flip into the zone on command.
The biggest factor slowing Jarvis’ ascent into the majors is merely the fact that he is a starting pitcher. Oftentimes starting pitchers get a taste of major league life coming out of the bullpen for a spell, but Duke head coach Chris Pollard stated that the Diamondbacks have every intention of using Jarvis as a starter.
In a world in which baseball is back to normal this season, Jarvis will get a tremendous opportunity if he receives an invitation. Arizona recently acquired Madison Bumgarner to beef up its starting rotation to go along with rising star Robbie Ray. Both know what it is like to be dominant starting pitchers, and Bumgarner has three World Series rings of experience to share.
Jarvis has a close to ideal pathway to make his major league debut sooner rather than later. The Diamondbacks have shown that they like to use their farm system to groom pitchers for major league careers with their organization, and they are in the rebuilding phase of their franchise after trading star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2018. The National League West is arguably the best division in baseball, and Arizona still needs a few more pieces to be legitimate contenders.
Jarvis will not be the answer to all the Diamondbacks’ problems. But if he fulfills his projections, he can be their third high-caliber arm to bolster the starting rotation.
In recent months, the spotlight has found itself focused on Jarvis more often than during any other time of his career. Former Blue Devil pitcher Marcus Stroman, the only other Duke player ever to be drafted in the first round of the MLB Draft, has repeatedly tweeted playful baseball banter at Jarvis. Furthermore, @PitchingNinja, a well-known Twitter account known for highlighting the nation’s top pitchers, has featured Jarvis multiple times.
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Even with all his newfound fame, the humble roots of Jarvis still shine bright.
“There’s still a lot of work that needs to go in to make it to the big leagues and be where I want to be,” Jarvis said. “But [being drafted 18th overall] is definitely a huge step in the right direction.”
The thought of Jarvis’ current reality just a few months ago was a reach at best. With his work ethic and mentality, however, he has proven that he has a knack for exceeding the most skilled baseball analysts’ expectations.
So while the spotlight may take a break from highlighting Jarvis for a short time now, don’t be surprised when he bursts onto center stage once again.