3) RHP Justin Topa
At 29 years old, Topa does not fit your typical “prospect” mold, but given he has just 7.2 career MLB innings, all coming in 2020 with the Brewers, he very much is still a prospect for the purpose of this article.
With coming onto the Major League scene last season, many fans are familiar with how this former Indy-Ball pitcher was discovered by the Brewers. In case you are not familiar the answer is Twitter.
The Brewers decided to take a chance on Topa after seeing his sinker/slider combo videos spread about the Flatground platform on Twitter. Once signed in the spring of 2019, he spent his first season with the Brewers in the Advanced-A and Double-A levels. In total he pitched 40 innings, struck out 41 batters, and had a 3.38 ERA.
In 2020, with expanded rosters, Justin Topa was invited to the Brewers alternate training site. Despite not being a high ranked prospect, Topa made noise and eventually got the call up to make his MLB debut on September 1, 2020.
Unfortunately in his first inning of work he surrendered two hits including a two run home run courtesy of Victor Reyes of the Detroit Tigers. However, in five more appearances throughout the year he did not allow any more earned runs and his 97 MPH sinker and low 80s, huge breaking slider combination showed promise to be a very deadly combination for years to come.
The most interesting aspect to Topa’s game is his slider. Per baseball savant, of the 36 sliders he threw in 2020, that pitch averaged 15.6 inches of horizonal break. When compared to other pitchers at a similar velocity, Topa’s slider had 136% more inches of break.
It’s fair to say that the Brewers value uniqueness in pitches. With teammate Devin Williams’ changeup in conjunction with Justin Topa’s slider, opposing batters are not use to seeing that much movement on those respective pitches. It’s something new and hitters still need time to adjust to it in attempts to ‘figure it out’.
Topa is set to join the bullpen next season with other flame throwing arms in Josh Hader, Devin Williams, Freddy Peralta, and Drew Rasmussen. This group of players, Topa included, is set to be a force opposing teams don’t want to reckon with.