D-backs 1st-round pick Bryce Jarvis discusses his pivotal summer ‘rebrand’

Jun 17, 2020, 8:50 AM
In this June 8, 2019, file photo, Duke's Bryce Jarvis throws to a Vanderbilt batter in the first in...

In this June 8, 2019, file photo, Duke's Bryce Jarvis throws to a Vanderbilt batter in the first inning of an NCAA college baseball tournament super regional game in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)

(AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)

After his sophomore season at Duke, pitcher Bryce Jarvis knew he had more value as a prospect. He owned the truth: that it was up to him to make teams see more value.

The son of 12-year MLB pitcher Kevin Jarvis, who briefly played for the Arizona Diamondbacks his final season in the majors, Bryce had all the tools at his disposal.

He leaned on his offspeed pitches and said he threw into the low 90s. Jarvis believed he had a great foundation and just needed an extra push.

He was proved correct after he gave himself a push toward massive improvement, leading the D-backs to select him 18th overall in the 2020 MLB Draft last Wednesday.

A summer prior, when the New York Yankees selected Jarvis in the 37th round of the 2019 draft, “it was a cool experience but it definitely a wakeup call,” Jarvis said Tuesday on the D-backs BP Show. “I knew I had more in me than that and knew I could go higher.”

Jarvis formulated a plan. Instead of going back to the Cape Cod Baseball League to play in front of scouts, he wanted to improve before facing any more competition.

He spoke with his father, among others, and decided to split his summer working at Driveline Baseball in Seattle, a data-driven company that would look at the details of his pitches — how they rotate especially. Then, he would gain strength at Cressey Sports Performance in Massachusetts, hopefully to add velocity to his arsenal.

“So went out to Driveline and did their motion-capture analysis and pitch design sessions and worked a lot on my slider and a curveball, made sure those were two distinct pitches,” Jarvis said. “From there, kind of went to the strength facility and was working out six days a week, trying to eat as much as I can to put on weight.

“Ended up gaining 25 pounds over that summer and came back to Duke in the fall as a completely different animal.”

The results were impressive.

His weight led to mid-to-high 90 mph velocity on his fastball. He perfected his changeup and defined his two slurveballs into a true slider and a curve. The four-pitch mix all looked pretty similar when his junior college season began.

After a summer in the lab, Jarvis finally got his chance to produce against competition.

In the shortened junior season at Duke, Jarvis allowed two earned runs over 27.0 innings for a 0.67 ERA. He struck out 40 batters and walked two, and he threw a perfect game against Cornell.

Jarvis credits his 36-round draft leap to that pivotal summer, where he opted against trying to impress scouts against summer competition in the Cape, instead focusing on himself.

“There’s still a lot of really great value going to play summer ball and obviously the Cape is extremely prestigious and I was fortunate to go there after my freshman year and get that experience,” he said. “Ultimately decided that going back was just going to be giving people another round of looks of what was kind of the same pitcher I’d been the last two years, and if I really wanted to rebrand myself and show that I was a different guy than the 37th rounder from the year before that, I’d need to make some real improvements.”

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D-backs 1st-round pick Bryce Jarvis discusses his pivotal summer ‘rebrand’