The 2014 mlb draft is less than 2 months away. I wrote two previous writeups on the draft, but a lot has changed since each of them. As we sit here in April, Brady Aiken appears to be the top choice, and he was looking like a 10-15 pick selection in January. The draft is crazy, and who knows, by June maybe Jeff Luhnow locks up Bud in a room and forces him to make high school juniors eligible for the draft which enables evil Mr. Luhnow to draft Daz Cameron. Anyways, today I'm going to look at THE player I think the Mets should draft this year. I've been thinking about it for a while, but as questions on Trea Turner and Michael Gettys grew, my guy for this draft is Touki Toussaint. On most pre draft rankings he is going lower than 10 which would make him available to the Mets. After this report on him, I think you will appreciate him as much as I do.
Background: Touki is a 6'2" 185 pound right handed pitcher. He was born in Haiti and now lives in Florida where he attends Coral Springs Christian High School. He won't turn 18 until a week or two after the draft, and this is pretty important information in his case because Touki was primarily a soccer player until 8th or 9th grade at which point he started pitching. He has a commitment to baseball powerhouse Vanderbilt but given top 10 money, he should sign relatively easily.
Fastball: Touki's biggest problem is his inability to consistently command his fastball. Anyways, we'll get to that later, so let's talk about the pure quality of his pitches. Touki's fastball sits anywhere from the 90-95 range and he has been clocked as high as 97 or 98 miles an hour. Toussaint has electric armspeed which helps deliver this velocity despite his not physically mature frame(that's a good thing). Besides raw velocity, Touki can manipulate the pitch by running it into the glove side or arm side. It has premier life and is a truly explosive pitch. As Toussaint matures his fastball should sit in the 93-96 range touching higher. That and the life make his fastball easily a potential plus plus offering if he can command it. Here is Toussaint blowing away some hitter on a 93 mph fastball. You can see the giddyup and explosive movement it has up in the zone.
Curveball: I don't need to talk much here
He can also break the curveball out of the zone:
So yeah, Touki's curveball is a money pitch. It's in the mid 70's and as he matures it could tick up in velo without losing spin. Touki's unreal amount of armspeed enable him to impart a crazy amount of spin on the breaking ball. That's what makes it so tight and so unhittable when he commands it. The pitch also has excellent depth as it breaks fairly late and doesn't allow the hitter to identify it right out of the hand. If he can command it, this curveball should baffle major league hitters, much less high school and minor league ones. It's a future plus plus pitch.
Changeup: Changeup scouting on a high school pitcher is tough. A lot of people see the lack of a refined change on a high school pitcher and right it off. The change is one of the hardest pitches to develop a feel for and most don't until an older age. Just look at Justin Verlander. The guy had a crazy fastball/breaking ball combo since the day he was born but only when he developed the pitch did he become the monster he is today. Touki's changeup inspires that kind of projection in me. He delivers it with good armspeed(which makes it tough to differentiate from the fastball), and fastball shows good sink and drop. These are the basic ingredients for a plus change so I feel confident that Touki can develop one. Here is him throwing one at the All American game in August. According to most reports from the National High School Invitational in North Carolina a few weeks ago, Touki's feel for the change has improved. The 86 mph change in this gif is in the dirt but you can see the armspeed and movement on it.
Other: Touki also shows a cutter/slider type pitch in the mid 80's with glove side action. It's not a huge pitch for him and he doesn't need it to make high schoolers look foolish, but at the same time it's good to know that he has a 4 pitch mix as a 17 year old.
Command/Control: So far I've described a 17 year old kid with a potentially plus plus fastball/curve combo with a potentially above average or plus change. This kid should be going top 5 right? No, because Touki's command, while improved from when these GIF's were taken in August, is still a work in progress. However, I think that there is hope here, and that is because of the immense projection that Toussaint has remaining. First remember, that Touki is a 17 year old kid with long loose limbs and a body that has not reached maturity in. As he grows and gains control of his body, it should help with regards to consistency. Besides, Touki has been pitching for only a few years. He is still new to pitching, and that further adds to his projection. Also, with professional instruction Touki might be able to get more out of his delivery: His delivery does not have any mechanical red flags but there are some moving parts which he might be better off simplifying and letting his arm strength do the rest. It would help him to repeat his delivery more consistently which leads to better command. Overall, I think Touki's background and body are being overlooked with regards to his command. If you had to pick the type of profile that you would bet to develop better command: it would be Touki.
Conclusions: Touki is the guy I want at 10. To me he may have the highest pure ceiling for a pitcher in this draft. You can't teach a guy to spin a curve like that or to move his fastball like that. Touki's natural gifts are immense, and remember the Mets have a very good track record with getting guys to throw strikes. For example, just look at Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, and even Jenrry Mejia who could barely throw a strike 2 or more years ago. I have searched long and hard for a comp for Touki. I started at Taijuan Walker but that felt forced. Eventually, I realized that the perfect comp was right in front of me: Zack Wheeler. Like Touki: Wheeler in high school had a dynamite fastball/curveball combo and didn't know where the ball was going. Like Touki, he had a body he had yet to grow into and long limbs as well as a delivery with some moving parts that prevented repetitions. Wheeler was taken 6th by the Giants and 5 years later he is a young exciting pitcher for us. He still isn't perfect, but he's gotten a lot better at throwing strikes. I feel confident that the Mets can do the same for Touki. Wheeler to Touki is a pretty awesome comp in my mind, and in fact Wheeler was 19 at the time of the draft while Toussaint will be 17. Wheeler had been pitching his entire life, and he didn't have the feel for a changeup or a 4th pitch like Touki does. To me Toussaint is better than Zack Wheeler was in high school and younger. Are you down to get the next Zack Wheeler in this sytem? I am. Besides, this is all irrelevant. We need a dude named Touki Toussaint playing for the Mets. #TakeTouki