From Overlooked to Drafted

Posted April 22, 2020, 12:39PM

In 2019, Corey Joyce, NCCU slugger, became the second draft pick in school history. 

Corey Joyce NC Central Baseball
Photo by Kevin Dorsey

Tie score, the bottom of the ninth, runner on second base, and a freshman in his first college baseball game is at the plate. The pitcher delivers, and the batter sends a shot into the outfield. The runner scores from second base, and the rookie saves the day with his game-winning RBI double. 

That freshman was NCCU Baseball’s Corey Joyce, who also hit a solo home run and a two-run home run in that opening day doubleheader. Less than three years later, he was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 2019 MLB Draft.  

“It was one of my most memorable moments,” Joyce said, describing his first college game. “It was one of those games where I was just on it.” 

Joyce wasn’t sure if he would make the starting team that day in spring 2017 until he was assigned to second base. 

“I didn’t know if I was going to start, so I went in there with an open mind,” Joyce said. “I ended up getting the start, and it kicked off from there. I had a great day.” 

The Lexington, N.C., native discovered baseball at a young age and quickly fell in love with the sport. 

“My grandpa introduced me to the game, and we would play in the backyard,” Joyce said. “Once I got old enough to move on to T-ball, that’s basically where it all started.” 

Although Joyce would go on to become one of the most decorated Eagle baseball players ever, he left high school with just one Division I offer.  

“I had some junior college teams looking at me, but they were looking for players to try out,” Joyce said. “Coach (Jim) Koerner was the only guy that stepped up and gave me a shot.” 

Joyce departed NCCU as a two-time Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Player of the Year (2018, 2019), MEAC Rookie of the Year, and a three-time First Team All-MEAC selection. He also owns NCCU’s highest career batting average (.348) and slugging percentage (.527). In addition, he has the most runs scored with 125 and the second-most RBI with 112 in the modern era at NCCU. 

Joyce said he is glad he spent his college years with the Eagles. “I enjoyed the team dinners and the karaoke on the bus rides,”  

Joyce said. “We became brothers, and we helped each other on and off the field.” 

Joyce also recalled some of his best on-field performances. 

Going 4-for-4 against nationally ranked N.C. State was huge because of the hype of the game and how close it ended up being,” Joyce said. “Also, going 6-for-6 against Bethune-Cookman University. It was one of those games where I was just on it. I just couldn’t get out, and the baseball looked like a beach ball when I was at the plate.

Joyce was selected in the 12th round of the 2019 MLB Draft.  

“It was definitely a relief to see the amount of work and dedication that I have given the game over the years has paid off,” Joyce said. “From being an overlooked little high school player to where I am now, it is really a sigh of relief that somebody acknowledges the work I put in.” 

Koerner, the head NCCU baseball coach, said having a student-athlete drafted “goes to show what hard work and determination can do." 

“This is a very exciting time for Corey and our program,” Koerner said. "We are proud of all of his accomplishments. The journey is just beginning for him.” 

Joyce was moved up in August to the West Michigan Whitecaps in the Midwest League at the A level, after batting .219 with 15 RBI for the Connecticut Tigers in the New York-Penn League. 

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