If the talent matches the personality, the Diamondbacks may have hit a gem in selecting Touki Toussaint as their number one pick in the recent 2014 amateur draft.
Flashing an ever-present smile and dressed in a shark grey suit, crisp white shirt and red bow-tie, Toussaint was introduced to the media Saturday and presented a confidence beyond his 18 years. While the Diamondbacks say Toussaint possesses all of the tools to be successful, the mental make-up appears just as strong.
“At this point, we don’t have to teach him a lot,” said general manager Kevin Towers. “His curve and fast ball are terrific and, given the fact he’s just starting out, we really don’t have a time table. Plus, I can’t say he’s on any fast track through the organization. Only time will tell.”
The Diamondbacks were so surprised Toussaint was available when he selected at number 16 that Towers did not see the graduate of Coral Springs (Fla.) Christian Academy pitch. Telling reporters on draft day, “frankly, I didn’t think he would be there when our time came,” Towers said,
The Diamondbacks have had their eye on Toussaint since his sophomore year in high school. Scout Frankie Thon, Jr., who signed Toussaint, attended a game in which Toussaint played shortstop. In the later innings, Toussaint came in to pitch and that was an eye-opener.
“When he started pitching, I said to myself, ‘have to keep an eye in this guy,’” Thon said. “At that point, I thought he could be pretty special.”
For his part, Toussaint said his baseball model and hero is Jackie Robinson and said, as some have compared the right-hander to Cardinals’ Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, “it’s an honor. I hope to be like him some day.”
During his senior year at Coral Springs Christian Academy, Toussaint went 8-2 with a 1.22 ERA for 63.1 innings and punched out 104 hitters. He committed to Vanderbilt University but signed with the Diamondbacks for $2,338,200, the assigned value for the 16th pick in the draft.
Beginning in 2012, major league implemented an assigned value to each draft pick and the Houston Astros, selecting the number one pick (pitcher Brady Aiken) in 2014 was allotted $7,922,100. Should they spend beyond the assigned limit, teams can be heavily fined and penalties assessed.
Though Vanderbilt is one of the better baseball programs in the country, Toussaint said the decision to turn pro right out of high school was the proper one at this time.
“Vanderbilt was fine with the decision,” Toussaint said. “Education is important and I’ll be able to get my degree either while playing or when my career is over.”
Despite the fact Toussaint has not pitched since the high school season, D-backs director of scouting Ray Montgomery said the organization is no hurry to accelerate his development. Plans have Toussaint reporting to the Diamondbacks’ Salt River facility for orientation and commencement of his professional career. For the season ahead, he will pitch for Arizona League Diamondbacks in the Arizona Rookie League.
ELSEWHERE AMONG DRAFTEES …
The Diamondbacks have two players, just drafted in 2014, still playing in the College World Series.
Left-handed pitcher Jared Miller, selected on the 11th round, playing for Vanderbilt and catcher Nate Irving, selected on the 34th round, playing for the University of Virginia, are still alive in the tournament.
First baseman Kevin Cron, selected on the 14th round from TCU, is out as the Horned Frogs was eliminated by the University of Mississippi last Thursday.