Phillies 2014 Draft Preview - Touki Toussaint, RHP

How about that, a picture of Touki was in the database. - Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports

There's no bigger risk/reward player in this draft. Touki has a pretty elite arm, but can he ever be more than a thrower?

Toussaint is a 6'2" 195 pund Righty originally from Haiti, but currently of south Florida. Touki grew up playing Soccer and only picked up baseball fairly recently after moving to the states. I've heard Doc Gooden comps and they aren't crazy as they have similar builds and Touki's fastball has some of the electricity of prime Doc offerings. He's very raw currently though. Any team that picks him is going to need to do a lot to develop him. His delivery needs tweaking to get consistent, his changeup needs work, his Curve can be very good, but is a bit all over the place (tied into the work needed on the delivery). He's a great thrower and he can hit 98 currently and works 92-95. There aren't many arms like his so he'll be very tempting and with Hoffmann out of the picture Touki becomes much more intriguing as the 7th pick.

Touki currently throws 4 pitches: A Fastball with quite a bit of movement; a Curve with hard spin and break; a Slider/Cutter that rarely gets used and aChange which also is rarely used (almost no HS Pitchers use Changeups as more than a show-me pitch). Touki's current problem is that his release point is all over the map. If you watch the video below you'll see him occasionally lock his front knee, causing his fastball to stay high. He releases late on a few balls and puts them in the dirt. On one pitch at the 1:23 mark he releases the ball so early he sails it over the hitter's head. His mechanics are a bit unorthodox, but also lead to a lot of his movement on his Fastball. For that reason a team needs to consider how much they want to mess with that. Maybe it's a matter of just getting him innings and BP sessions to refine the release, maybe it's minor changes to improve control. Now, the Curve, which is in there a lot, but you get some good looks at around the 2 minute mark, is good enough to get Low A hitters out and that's kind of the risk. Touki might put up some stupifying numbers in Low-A that get everyone real excited, but without refining that pitch and being able to locate it, advanced hitters will lay off and he'll pile up walks. So, if he's destroying the GCL or NYPL, is he going to feel like he needs to mess with the pitch? Is he going to look at coaches telling him to work on things and think "Are you even watching the games?". I don't know. Scouts will need to get a feel for that, because it can be hard to get someone to change what's currently working for them.

 

 

Here's a more recent clip from the National High School Invitational tournament, held in my neck of the woods about a month ago. His delivery looks more consistent and he shows lagrely better control, but it's a 90 second clip, so don't get carried away and put too much stock in it. Like everything else you see on him, it's just a piece of the puzzle and helps create the picture. Also, control is a relative term as he walked 5 hitters in 6 innings of work in this game, while striking out 12. That would be good for a 18 K/9 and 7.5 BB/9 line, both pretty crazy. The fun of small sample sizes. (video courtesy of BPProspect Team)

 

I'm a bit of a Touki fan, but the Phillies have gambled on a lot of arms who needed to improve their control and the track record isn't particularly stellar. Part of me would be upset if the Phillies took Touki because of the fact we already have quite a few similar guys (Colvin, Biddle, to an extent, Gueller, Perci Garner, etc.) with good stuff and little idea of where it's going. Touki's ceiling is that of an Ace or strong #2 Starter, but his ceiling floor is a guy who can't get beyond Clearwater. He's a great gamble for an Org with strong Pitching coaches and a solid development pipeline for arms (St Louis, Boston, Arizona, though they may not like his unorthodox delivery).

Note: H/T to Mike Sankey on twitter for catching my grammatical faux pas at the end of the piece.

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