For the sixth time in the last seven years, the Arizona Diamondbacks took a pitcher in the first round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft on Thursday night.
With the No. 16 overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, the D-backs selected right-hander Touki Toussaint out of Coral Springs (Fla.) Christian Academy.
“I think our scouts had him as one of the top five pitchers in the draft,” D-backs GM Kevin Towers said. “It was kind of like [Braden] Shipley’s situation [in 2013]. I don’t think we thought he would get to us at No. 16, but we think he has tremendous upside.
“He’s relatively new to pitching. Great athlete, kid with incredible aptitude. He kind of reminds me when you watch him on video of a young Bob Gibson. The ball comes out of his hand real easy.”
The 6-foot-2 standout went 8-2 as a senior with a 1.22 ERA, four complete games and 104 strikeouts.
Toussaint, who is of Haitian descent, throws a fastball that sits between 92 and 95 miles per hour on occasion reaches 98. He also throws a plus curveball in the upper-70s and a cutter that normally hits 86 to 88 on the gun.
“What you’ll see is his athleticism,” D-backs Scouting Director Ray Montgomery said. “He was a soccer player. He’s a very good athlete. He can handle the bat. He plays shortstop when he doesn’t pitch.
“Like most pitchers, he’ll probably think he’s a good hitter. I just hope he can bunt, turn the lineup over and do some of those things. If he can give us a little extra offensively great. I do like the overall athleticism.”
Although he didn’t start playing competitive baseball until he was 12, the native of Pembroke Pines, Fla. introduced himself to the baseball community with 18 strikeouts over six innings of work in the 2012 WWBA World Championship.
To date, no Haitian player has ever played at the big league level.