D-backs first-round pick, Braves P Touki Toussaint thrives in debut

Aug 13, 2018, 1:20 PM | Updated: 2:13 pm

Atlanta Braves' Touki Toussaint pitches against the Miami Marlins during the first inning of the fi...

Atlanta Braves' Touki Toussaint pitches against the Miami Marlins during the first inning of the first game in a baseball double header Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

(AP Photo/John Amis)

The Arizona Diamondbacks got their first MLB look at Touki Toussaint, the team’s first-round pick from 2014 they dealt to the Atlanta Braves.

The rookie Toussaint pitched well against the Miami Marlins on Monday. He went six innings, allowing two hits, two walks and one earned run while striking out four and hitting a batter.

Toussaint’s nasty breaking ball was on full display.

The 22-year-old ran into trouble in the second inning, allowing a walk, single and a double for the first run of the game, but settled down, stranding the two runners in scoring position to escape the jam. After hitting Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto with a pitch in the third, Toussaint recorded eight straight outs.

The Braves provided more than enough offense for Toussaint to be in position for a win in his debut, scoring eight runs in the first six innings.

Toussaint was infamously traded by the D-backs along with pitcher Bronson Arroyo to Atlanta for infielder Phil Gosselin in 2015. The D-backs saved approximately $10 million in salary, making Toussaint a price they were willing to pay in order to shed Arroyo’s salary.

Giving up a valuable prospect to get off some money was not a positively reviewed move across baseball circles. ESPN’s Keith Law couldn’t even muster a full sentence when he saw the news.

The return in the deal is non-existent now for Arizona. After spending a little over a year with the D-backs, Gosselin was traded to the Pirates for minor-league pitcher Frank Duncan in February of 2017. Duncan was released by the Jackson Generals, the D-backs’ Double-A affiliate, in late March.

Toussaint defied two major expectations from then-Arizona general manager Dave Stewart with his debut.

Stewart was bold in his assessment of Toussaint in an interview with Fox Sports from June of 2015.

The truth is we did not know what Touki’s value would be if we shopped him. There is a lot of speculation on that. People are assuming it would have been better, but we don’t know.

There was an opportunity to make a deal that gave us more flexibility today as well as next year. We took that opportunity. It’s tough to say we could have gotten more. He was drafted at No. 16, given ($2.7) million. In my opinion, that’s his value.

To this point, he has pitched OK, he has pitched well. But guys are mentioning that he throws 96 mph. He hasn’t thrown 96 mph since he’s been here. We haven’t seen 96 once. There is some inflation of what people think Touki is.

We think he’ll be a major-league pitcher. We don’t see it happening in the next three or four years. Maybe five or six years down the road, he’ll show up and be a major-league pitcher. But that is a long ways down the road.

Toussaint has proved those assumptions Stewart shot down were correct.

He was lights out in Double-A and Triple-A this year, combining for a 2.68 ERA in 21 starts. While Toussaint isn’t expected to stay in the rotation, the 22-year-old starting Monday defied Stewart’s guesstimate that he would not be a major-league pitcher anytime soon.

Plus, Toussaint went over 95 mph on his fastball four times in the first two innings, erasing Stewart’s narrative of Toussaint’s velocity being exaggerated.

If Toussaint was still in the D-backs’ system, he would be ranked as Arizona’s second-best prospect by MLB Pipeline.

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