On Friday, the Brewers extended a series of invitations to big-league spring training to several notable players not on their 40-man roster. Among those names are top prospects Tyler Black, Robert Gasser, Jacob Misiorowski, Carlos Rodriguez, and Brock Wilken.
One of the less heralded players receiving an invite is Tobias Myers. A sixth-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 2016, Myers signed a minor-league deal with the Brewers last winter after shuffling through four organizations.
The 25-year-old has been inconsistent throughout his professional career, and his recent surface-level results in the minor leagues have been ugly. Opponents smacked him around for a 7.82 ERA in 76 Triple-A innings in 2022. Last year, the Brewers assigned Myers to Double-A Biloxi, where he pitched to an unsightly 5.03 ERA in 137 2⁄3 innings.
That lack of bottom-line run prevention may not show it, but Myers made some notable gains last season after a career-worst campaign. After walking nearly as many hitters (13.5%) as he struck out (14.2%) in 2022, Myers slashed his walk rate to 7.7% while punching out 28.7% of opponents with Biloxi. His 168 strikeouts set a team single-season record.
That showing was enough to earn a late-season promotion to Triple-A, where Myers overwhelmed hitters in two relief appearances, striking out seven of 11 batters faced.
Because each Triple-A stadium is equipped with Statcast, the promotion produced publicly available pitch-tracking data for Myers. The numbers help reveal why he was able to generate so much swing and miss.
Myers has started 120 of his 136 games as a professional, and he deployed a full five-pitch mix (four-seam fastball, cutter, curveball, slider, changeup) in that role. In his relief outings in Triple-A, he pushed most of his secondaries aside and threw his four-seamer 70% of the time.
Myers’ fastball averaged 19.7 inches of induced vertical break, meaning it had elite ride. That would have tied for the eighth-highest induced vertical break among MLB pitchers who threw at least 25 four-seamers in 2023.
Myers also experienced a velocity bump working in relief. His fastball typically sat in the low 90s as a starter and dipped to an 89.7 mph average in 2022. In his two relief outings, he averaged 94.1 mph and touched 96.
Those qualities make Myers' fastball a pitch to be reckoned with. The mid-90s version on display out of the bullpen graded out by Stuff+ as 27% better than an average pitch.
A riding fastball plays best when thrown up in the strike zone. Hitters often swing late on it, underneath it, or both (think of Josh Hader, Freddy Peralta, and Brandon Woodruff).
Myers knows this is where his fastball plays best, and he hammered the upper third of the zone in his relief outings.
It remains to be seen how the Brewers will deploy Myers in 2024, but there's a compelling case for moving him to relief. His fastball has the traits to blow hitters away in short spurts.
Regardless of his role, Myers is unlikely to crack the MLB roster out of camp. He isn't on the 40-man roster, and the Brewers already have a fairly crowded pitching mix. However, it wouldn't be surprising to see him selected at some point during the season if a need for another arm arises. Another round in big-league camp will be an opportunity to prove to the club that he can help.