Showcase | Story | 6/15/2013

An electrical storm watch

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

MINNEAPOLIS -- While Hurricane Sandy was churning out in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 miles due east of Jupiter, Fla., late last October, a young man of Haitian descent was producing an electrical storm of his own inside the Roger Dean Sports Complex.

Touki Toussaint was on the mound for the Atlanta Blue Jays the evening of Oct. 28 in what would turn out to be the Blue Jays' final game at the 2012 PG WWBA World Championship. Toussaint, at the time a 6-foot-2, 190-pound junior right-hander at Coral Springs (Fla.) Christian Academy -- his first year at the school -- was on the bump for the second time at the World Championship and had seen his fastball gunned at 95 mph during his first outing at the event.

He worked three innings that night, and gave up one earned run on three hits with nine strikeouts and five walks in a 9-1 loss to the Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler, and was given the loss (the Blue Jays were no-hit). But during the course of that game, Toussaint unleashed a 97 mph fastball that got the scouts buzzing and cemented his claim as one of the class of 2014's fastest rising star prospects.

"That was very fun," Toussaint recalled Saturday, speaking of that wild and windy night in Jupiter. "The last game, my adrenaline was going and there were a whole lot of (scouts) there; we were playing against a couple of my buddies so it was real competitive."

Toussaint was speaking on Saturday while in attendance at the 2013 Perfect Game National Showcase in the Metrodome. He has been playing baseball for only four years and pitching for only three of those years, yet Perfect Game ranks him the No. 1 right-handed pitching prospect in the national high school class of 2014 and the No. 3 overall prospect in that class.

"I'm real excited about being here," Toussaint told PG Saturday. "I just want to have fun and say 'Hi' to a couple of buddies. I'm honored (to be here); this is crazy."

He pitched two innings for PG Purple on Saturday and ran his fastball up to 94 mph. Known for his "chin-to-knees" curve ball, he flashed that pitch twice in the first inning of his outing, and it came in at 76 and 78 mph; the two innings of work were looked upon favorably by the couple of hundred scouts in attendance.

"I'm not satisfied yet," Toussaint told PG before he pitched. "I need to throw more strikes and be more consistent and have (better) command of my pitches, getting ahead of more batters. I can throw my curve ball for strikes and I'm working on a change-up and trying to command that a lot better."

Having arrived to the game so late in his young life (he won't celebrate his 17th birthday until June 20) he is still a bit of an enigma to the scouting community despite appearances in 17 PG events. He was a soccer player during his childhood, and in an interview with PG on Friday, he explained how he came to the game of baseball.

"It was difficult at first, but my best friend always pressured me, 'Play baseball, play baseball,' and I was like 'What's baseball?'" he said. "I told him I'd make him a deal that if I have to play baseball he had to play soccer, and then he played soccer so he made me play baseball."

According to this article written by Walter Villa from the Miami Herald, Toussaint was born in Pembroke Pines, Fla., but moved to Haiti with his parents, father Dany Toussaint and mother Kahaso Kiti, when he was three months old. He returned to Broward County, Fla., six years later with his mother.

Toussaint was originally named after his father, Dany, but changed his name to Touki when he left Haiti and returned to Florida. The name is a combination of the first three letters of his last name (Tou) and the first two letters of his mother's last name (ki). His mother has raised Touki since they returned to the United States.

"She's my everything; she's my rock," Toussaint told PG when asked about Kahaso Kiti, who works as an accountant at a bank in Coral Springs.

He was named Florida's high school player of the year this season after finishing 6-2 with a 0.78 ERA and 83 strikeouts on the mound and hitting .458 with six home runs, 32 RBI and 26 runs scored at the plate. His coach at Coral Springs Christian Academy is Matt Cleveland.

"He's very talented. He's able to put up those big numbers, but he also has an extraordinary work ethic. He came up big in so many ways for us," Cleveland told sun-sentinal.com in an online article published June 3. "He had to be in the top two, three [pitchers] in strikeouts, while only pitching once a week. He was an all-around contributor and an extraordinary athlete.

"The baseball talent he has makes it look easy and when we use him in different places, he always says, 'Whatever's best for the team.' His attitude allows him to be successful."

It was Cleveland who first put a label on Toussaint's curve ball.

"He's got a chin-to-knees curve ball," Cleveland to the Miami Herald's Villa. "And his change-up reminds me of Pedro Martinez -- it moves to the side and down two feet. The movement is unreal."

Toussaint, who remains uncommitted to a college, plans to play with the Atlanta Blue Jays on a fulltime basis this summer and, in fact, played with quite a few of his Blue Jays teammates here this week. Thirteen roster spots on the PG Purple team at the National Showcase also occupy spots on the 2013 Atlanta Blue Jays 17u/18u roster, including Toussaint and his Coral Springs Christian Academy teammate Benito Santiago.

Toussaint has formed a solid relationship with an organization that he calls "very good" with "good people, good coaches."

After his second appearance at the PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter last October, Toussaint finished the tournament with a line of six innings pitched, four hits, two earned runs (2.33 ERA), 18 strikeouts and seven walks. He was named the event's top "Impact Pitcher", the only 2014 among the five pitchers on the list (the other four were 2013s).

Todd Gold, PG's national scouting supervisor and director of high school coverage, took note of Toussaint's "deceptively smooth arm stroke" and "long wingspan and fast whippy arm action" in naming him the tournament's most impactful pitcher. He also wrote that "Toussaint showed the most electric arsenal of the entire tournament."

When Touki Toussaint is on the mound, you can be sure an electrical storm is on the horizon.

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