Name: Touki Toussaint
Born: June 20, 1996 (17), Pembroke Pines, Florida
Height/Weight: 6'2", 195 pounds
School: Coral Springs Christian Academy (Florida)
While baseball is wildly popular in the Dominican Republic, the number of men from neighboring Haiti who have played in Major League Baseball can be counted on one hand. On one finger, actually. Felix Pie, the former Cubs and Orioles outfielder who now plays for the Hanwha Eagles, was born in the Dominican Republic but was born to Haitian parents. Baseball prodigy Miguel Sano has a similar story, but he has yet to play in the big leagues. Touki Toussaint might follow in Sano's footsteps, as he might one day become a major league player of Haitian descent, and he might one day be considered a baseball prodigy.
Born in Florida, Toussaint and his parents moved from the United States back to Haiti for some years shortly after he was born. He spent his formative years there, moving back to Florida when he was six years old. As a youngster, Toussaint grew up with more of an appreciation of that soccer than baseball. He didn't get into baseball until he was a teenager. When he stepped onto the mound for the first time, it was apparent that it was Toussaint's destiny to play baseball. He excelled and found himself on the periphery of numerous regional and national competitions and finals, but he really he burst onto the prospect scene in October 2012, when he struck out a whopping 18 batters in only six innings during the Perfect Game USA WWBA World Championship.
After a successful 2013 season, the Coral Springs Christian Academy won the District 14-3A championship only to lose in the regionals. They made it to the District 14-3A championship game and won once again in 2014, their fifth district championship in a row—thanks to a late inning relief appearance by Toussaint, who relieved his team's starter in the seventh inning and pitched a clean inning to lock down the save. They would later go on to win the regional championship for the 2014 season.
Finishing up his senior year of high school and heavily scouted, Toussiant shows a maturity far beyond his years, just like his pitching ability. "It's very humbling to see the hard work pay off, but I have to keep working to reach my goal of being a major league starting pitcher. I don't really pay attention to [the player comparisons and national rankings]. I've seen a lot of kids take it and run with it and their heads get huge," he said of his burgeoning fame among baseball scouting circles.
It's not just in scouting circles, though. "The weirdest thing that's ever happened to me? I left the park and this old guy followed me to the store to ask for my autograph," Toussaint told a Sun-Sentinel reporter. "We played a regular season game. I got in the car and this guy got in his car. He followed me to the store. When I got to the store, he asked me for an autograph."
He has a commitment to Vanderbilt, and normally that would be problematic, as Vanderbilt has an exceptional baseball program that almost always gets their man, but Toussaint should sign with a major league club given how high he is projected to be selected in the draft. Unless he has unreasonable financial demands, or has his heart set on being the number one draft pick in the future—and thinks that his own physical maturation and some instruction from the Vanderbilt coaches can get him there—some lucky team will be able to inject their farm system with his talent.
What the Scouts Think
Toussaint throws from a high three-quarters delivery, using a lunge off the rubber and his long arms to produce a very whippy release that maximizes his velocity and a big leg kick to help hide it out of the windup. In just the last few months, Toussaint has put on about ten pounds and increased his pitching stamina and velocity range by a few ticks. At 6'2", 195 pounds, he might even still have a little growing to do, leading to more stamina and/or velocity.
Toussaint has a plus fastball, sitting in the low-to-mid-90s. The pitch already touches 97-to-98 miles per hour, and with mechanical refinement, might flirt with the century mark. In addition, the pitch has plenty of life to it. Normally, when a pitcher has a fastball like his, you'd figure it would be his best pitch. In Toussaint's case, that would be incorrect.
His curveball, already a legitimate plus-plus pitch, is undoubtedly his best offering. It is a hammer of a curve, breaking with such a sharp and pronounced drop that it is widely considered the best curve in the entire draft class. In addition, he has a changeup and cutter in his repertoire, though neither pitch is particularly developed or used much at this point in time. The cutter is more of a go-to pitch when he just wants to show the hitter something different to set up his next pitch, but the changeup has potential. As it is right now, it isn't particularly special, but it being a decent pitch in and of itself makes it somewhat special, as most high school pitchers don't throw it at all. It has decent fade to it, and he generally does not slow down his arm speed when he throws it. It has the potential to grow and become a better offering.
A profile like that sounds like a number one overall draft pick. Toussaint is not expected to be drafted with the first overall pick, so there are obviously some flaws in his game. Most notably, he sometimes has trouble with his command. With pitches with as much movement as his fastball and curve, that doesn't come as a surprise. His problems stem more so from mechanical issues, rather than his pitches having a mind of their own. When he kicks off the mound, he lunges. This is what generates a lot of the velocity and movement on his pitches, but it also causes his release point to bounce around and generally be inconsistent. It is not a major issue, and is common in inexperienced pitchers—which Toussaint is, more so than most other pitchers his age, making his ability all the more impressive. More repetition and some minor tweaks in his delivery with professional coaching might be all he needs to fix that problem.
What Alex Nelson Thinks
Touki Toussaint has more raw pitching ability than any pitcher in this draft not named Carlos Rodon or Tyler Kolek. A recent convert from soccer, he brings outstanding athleticism, and the results of that athleticism are already apparent. After struggling mightily as a junior, Toussaint has proven that he can hit the broad side of a barn, and when he does, he brings heat. He'll routinely throw 93-95 and will occasionally brush 97. The fastball has plenty of life. He'll also throw a curveball that, when he spins it right, is better than any curveball in this draft class. It's jaw-droppingly good: upper-70s, with fantastic depth. Of course, he'll still sometimes toss it four feet from the catcher's target. But he is getting better, and the mechanics are coming along. He needs to work on his delivery's timing, especially, but he is so athletic that I think he can do it. He won't have a speedy path to the majors, but the upside is so high that he still figures to go inside the first 20 picks.
"With his athleticism and arm strength, he could potentially turn into an ace. The stuff is that good."
"Toussaint might have the least baseball experience of any top draft prospect, yet arguably the highest ceiling of any high school pitcher."