It’s always fun to follow a highly-touted prospect as he makes his way through the minors and into the big leagues and Touki Toussaint’s journey from the farm to the show was no different. He started off the season in Mississippi and eventually earned a promotion to Gwinnett. That’s where he dominated his opposition and proved that he was ready for the bright lights of the major leagues.
Sure enough, Touki was called up in August and made a few starts down the stretch and that was enough to earn a spot on the postseason roster in a relief role. That was impressive when you consider all of the other relievers with more experience who got left off, but when you consider Touki’s trajection as a professional hurler, it was just more of the same for him.
Bottom line, what did he do in 2018? He finished his first regular season action with a 4.03 ERA and a 3.78 FIP over 29 innings pitched. If you’re the type of person who expects nothing but dominance right out of the gate from a top prospect, then you were disappointed. Touki did have an issue with walking people once he got ot the bigs. In 86 Double-A innings, his BB/9 was at 3.77 and in 50.1 Triple-A innings it was at 3.04. So while you would expect to see that number go up for Touki a bit once he had to deal with big league hitters, it was a tad bit concerning to see his BB/9 go up to 6.52. His walk rate was also at 17.1 percent, which was a sky-high number for Touki.
The good news is that everything else that is good about Touki translated to the major league level. His strikeout rate continued to sit in the high twenties (26.0 percent, to be exact) and his K/9 rate came in at just under 10, which is where it was on the farm. Basically, most of his peripherals from his minor league days ended up translating nicely to the big leagues, which means that unless something goes horribly wrong for no good reason, the Braves should rest comfortably knowing that they have yet another stud prospect on their hands who could develop into something really special as a pitcher.
Plus, the fact that Touki even made it to the bigs confirms that the Braves have indeed fleeced the Diamondbacks in one of the most lopsided deals you will ever see in baseball. Dave Stewart will always have a fond place in my heart.
Will Toussaint be on the roster next year? Unless he just has a disastrous offseason and/or spring training, Touki is all but a lock to be on the pitching staff next season. The big question is whether or not he’ll be a reliever or a starter. It’s very likely that he’ll earn a spot in the rotation next season and after that, the sky’s the limit. But yeah, you might want to get used to seeing Touki in a Braves uniform.
What is he going to do next year? Hopefully we’ll see Touki cut down on the walks and continue to develop into a big-time starter for the Braves. He proved that he was at least ready for the bigs during his regular season stint and he also will be going into 2019 with playoff experience under his belt. That type of experience is invaluable for a pitcher who will be entering his age-23 season. I mean, if you can take on a lineup like the Dodgers and at least come away looking good, then you’re doing something right. That was the case with Touki Toussaint and it will be exciting to see how he further develops in the upcoming season.
Highlight of 2018: On September 19, the Braves beat the Cardinals 7-3 and Touki went 5.2 innings while striking out eight batters and walking three. This also included Touki showing off his ridiculous breaking balls. This included an at-bat against Marcell Ozuna where Touki gave him two curveballs in a row to strike him out. The reaction from Ozuna was priceless because he figured that what he just saw was witchcraft or something.
Lowlight of 2018: Remember when I talked about how Touki had a tiny issue with the walks? This manifested itself just a few days before the previously mentioned highlight. In the sixth inning of a game against the Nationals, Atlanta was down 2-1 and simply needed Touki to keep things rolling so that the Braves could stay in it. He ended up giving up three runs in this frame and had three walks to his name. One of those was intentional, but the other two walks came around to score, so that was a direct consequence for the Braves in what ended up being a 7-1 loss and a rough outing for Touki.