Chicago Cubs Draft: Duke pitcher Bryce Jarvis Q&A

The Chicago Cubs should prioritize starting pitching in June’s draft, and Bryce Jarvis is a perfect option. Let’s get to know him a bit more.

As we approach June’s draft, the Chicago Cubs are likely to prioritize pitching as they will lose 60 percent of their rotation after this season. How does taking a guy who got progressively better each year in college and one who’s learned from the prestigious Driveline Academy in Seattle?

That’s exactly what the Cubs would be getting in Duke Blue Devils’ starting pitcher, Bryce Jarvis. As a true freshman, he made 25 appearances – including five starts – and struck out 67 batters in 47.2 innings while allowing a .142 average.

In his sophomore year, he made 19 appearances – including 11 starts – and struck out a team-high 94 batters while allowing just a .239 average in 75.2 innings of work. As noted, he spent some time at the Driveline Academy between his sophomore and junior seasons.

The work paid dividends as he posted a 0.67 ERA in four starts, including the first perfect game in school history. I recently had the chance to chat with him:

Q: Hailing from Franklin, Tennessee, what made you choose to continue your collegiate baseball career at Duke? And how important was it to you for Coach Pollard to have faith in you to make five starts as a freshman? 

A: The unmatched combination of academics and athletics is a big part of why I chose Duke. There was also a buzz around the baseball program specifically. Although they had not had the proven track record of many of the schools that I was being recruited by, it was clear that they were about to take a huge leap forward into the top ranks of college baseball, and that was something that I really wanted to be a part of.

I also wanted to go to a school that would allow me to have an impact as soon as I stepped on campus. Having the role that I did freshman year was cool because I got to be a part of the biggest moments we had as a team that year and not many freshmen can say that.

Q: What would you say was the biggest takeaway from your time at the Driveline Academy and how did it help you achieve such great command of your pitches?

A: At Driveline, I was able to work on pitch design with their team and get on their motion capture software. The main focus with them was tweaking my slider to make it a little more east-west instead of north-south so that I could add a true curveball into my arsenal this year. That was definitely the biggest takeaway from Driveline.

The jump in velocity, however, I attribute most to the added weight and functional strength that I put on at CSP (Cressey Sports Performance). I gained about 20 pounds in 7 weeks and felt more sturdy and robust on the mound overall. The added velocity to all of my pitches gave me newfound confidence to attack hitters more, and I think that helped with my command and walking fewer guys.

My fastball command is in a place that it has never been before, and that makes all of my other pitches play up as well.

Q: With the draft not far off, how have you been keeping sharp despite the pandemic shutting everything down? I know your father played at Wake Forest and spent 13 years in the MLB. What have you been able to learn from him? Is there a friendly rivalry in the house between you two ACC products?

A: Since the shutdown, I have been living with 5 of my teammates from Duke. Mike Rothenberg and his family were gracious enough to open up their home to a bunch of college baseball players for the foreseeable future so that we could all stick together with our training and throwing. I am able to train at Cressey Sports Performance here in Boca Raton and get two bullpens a week in.

It really is about as ideal of a setup as you can hope for in times like these. As far as it goes with my dad, there really is no rivalry. I attribute a lot of my success to his teaching and training growing up.

Q: Duke has progressively gotten better every year since Coach Pollard has been at the helm. What makes him so successful, and what technology (if any) are you using to help develop your pitches? 

A: His ability to create a culture of commitment to a process and working towards the collective goal of reaching the College World Series is unparalleled and is a big reason why Duke has had the success that it has over the last few years. The pitching staff uses Rhapsodo, Trackman, and Edgertronic Cameras to help with our development.

A special thank you to Bryce (@BryceJarvis28) for taking the time. We wish you all the best with the draft and your professional career.