MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Prep righty Toussaint tantalizes with electric arm

Prep righty Toussaint tantalizes with electric arm

Because they have a chance to go No. 1 overall to the Astros, Cathedral Catholic High (San Diego) left-hander Brady Aiken and Shepherd (Texas) High right-hander Tyler Kolek have dominated the discussion about prep pitchers. Righties Grant Holmes (Conway, S.C., High) and Sean Reid-Foley (Sandalwood High, Jacksonville, Fla.) have gained recognition by taking significant steps forward and becoming possible top 10 picks.

As a result, the pitcher who might have the best fastball/curveball combination in the entire Draft has been overshadowed a bit this spring. Coral Springs (Fla.) Christian Academy right-hander Touki Toussaint may not be getting as much hype as might be expected, but he still won't last past the middle of the first round.

While he's not especially big at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, Toussaint has an exceptionally quick arm. It allows him to deliver 92-96 mph fastballs and mid-70s curveballs. Toussaint's curve breaks so much that he has trouble keeping it in the zone, his catchers have difficulty handling it and umpires sometimes struggle to call it correctly for strikes.

Toussaint's stuff is considerably ahead of his command at this point. That was evident during the National High School Invitational in March, when he beat Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High 1-0 in front of an army of scouts. Toussaint struck out 12 and allowed just one hit in six-plus innings, but he also walked four, hit two others and needed 116 pitches to get 18 outs.

Toussaint battled the strike zone early Wednesday, walking the first two batters he faced and surrendering a homer to the third in a first-round game in the Florida 3-A state playoffs. He settled down afterward, finishing with 10 strikeouts and a two-hitter in a 6-3 win over the Benjamin School (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.).

While the Vanderbilt recruit will need time to develop and won't race to the Major Leagues, Toussaint could be a star once he gets there. One assistant GM said that Toussaint ranks a close second behind Kolek, who can throw his fastball upward of 100 mph, as the best pure high school arm in the Draft.

"He even rivals Kolek a little bit," the assistant GM said. "You might say he has a much better breaking ball than Kolek, and their command is pretty similar. Toussaint is just scratching the surface. I'm seen him throw 96 mph with a 70 curveball and a 60 changeup [on the 20-80 scouting scale]. He's throwing better strikes.

"He might have more upside than Kolek. He has a chance to be special. He has as much upside as anyone in this Draft."