Dominic Topoozian (pronounced "tuh-POOH-zhun") enters his first season with the Grizzlies and third as a professional in 2019.
Topoozian, 25, spent 2017 and part of 2018 with the Sonoma (Calif.) Stompers of the independent Pacific Association before he was acquired by the Sioux City Explorers of the independent American Association midway through last season.
Topoozian was traded within the American Association — from Sioux City to the Sioux Falls Canaries — after the season ended as a player to be named later to complete an earlier swap. He was shortly thereafter (Nov. 15, 2018) dealt to Gateway in exchange for slugging first baseman Trae Santos and relief pitcher Kevin Simmons.
Topoozian made 11 appearances (two starts) for Sioux City last season and finished with a 1-1 record and exceptional 2.93 ERA over 30 2/3 innings. He struck out 19 but walked only five and allowed just two home runs. Prior to signing with Sioux City, he was 6-0 with a 2.89 ERA across 56 innings in Sonoma in 2018. The Pacific Association is known for very strong offensive numbers, making his sub-3.00 ERA even more impressive.
The Stompers are known for a couple unusual decisions over their first two years of existence: Former major league pitcher Bill "Spaceman" Lee started a game for the Stompers on August 12, 2014, and earned the victory over the Pittsburg Mettle (now called the Pittsburg Diamonds). With the win, the 67-year-old Lee became the oldest person to ever win a professional baseball game. Lee pitched 5 2/3 innings, and batted for himself! In 2015, Sonoma (and general manager Theo Fightmaster) allowed Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller, then of Baseball Prospectus’s "Effectively Wild" podcast, to take over the team’s baseball operations department. The pair published a book the following year on their experience: The Only Rule is it Has to Work.
Topoozian pitched in junior college for two seasons at Fresno (Calif.) City College, where his career ERA was under 2.50, then for two more years (2015 and 2017) at NCAA Div. I Fresno State University.
He pitched at Buchanan High School in Clovis, Calif., where he went 11-0 with a 1.02 ERA as a junior on a team that was named Powerade Fab50 National Champions.