The name just rolls off the tongue: Touki Toussaint.
It’s a name — pronounced TOO-key too-SANT — one can envision on a Major League Baseball marquee someday, which is where he may end up if scouts are right about the 16-year-old Coral Springs Christian junior with the 97 mph fastball.
The right-hander has already been selected to play in a major-league stadium — Chicago’s Wrigley Field — this summer for the 2013 Under Armour Game.
The Aug. 24 event is for 36 of the nation’s top prospects. Seven players from the 2011 game, for example, were drafted in the first round in 2012.
Matt Cleveland, who coaches the Coral Springs Christian Crusaders, said Toussaint has more than just an explosive two-seam fastball.
“He’s got a chin-to-knees curveball,” Cleveland said of the break on his curve. “And his changeup reminds me of Pedro Martinez. It moves to the side and down two feet. The movement is unreal.”
Toussaint went 5-0 with a 1.01 ERA last season, which was his first with the Crusaders. He is still a raw prospect, though, which is something that makes him even more appealing to scouts.
In other words, if he is this good now, think of how much better he will get once he has been in the game longer.
Toussaint was born in Pembroke Pines but moved to Haiti with his parents three months later. His given name is Dany, but he has always gone by Touki, which was taken from the first three letters of his father’s last name (Toussaint) and the first two of his mother (Kiti).
His parents split up, though, and Toussaint is being raised by his mom, Kahaso Kiti, who works in a bank.
“I haven’t spoken to my father in seven years,” Toussaint said.
Toussaint, who moved back to Broward County at age six, was a soccer player first. But he discovered baseball at age 11 and fell in love with the sport.
He recently won a gold medal representing the United States in a U-16 international competition in Mexico, and he finds all the attention amazing.
“I didn’t even know how to throw a ball four years ago,” he said. “Now I get to play in Wrigley Field? I’m excited and honored.”
This summer came a new milestone for Toussaint when his teammates invited him to lift weights.
“Lift — what’s that?” was Toussaint’s reply.
Toussaint caught on quickly and has added 15 pounds of muscle in the past 10 months. He’s now 6-2 and 195 pounds.
“He has arms as long as his legs,” Cleveland said. “It’s the perfect body for a pitcher.”
With his added strength, the velocity on Toussaint’s fastball has jumped from 88 to 91 mph in the fall of his sophomore year to his current range, which sits at 91 to 94 and climbs as high as 97.
His nasty curveball, which comes in at about 70 mph, ties up batters in knots. And if he can improve his command, he will be nearly unhittable.
Toussaint is more than just a pitcher, though. He played shortstop last year and is in center field this year whenever he’s not on the mound. Last season, he set a school record by hitting .515, and he has blazing speed. He hits third in the lineup.
Had he not been a pitcher, he could’ve gotten drafted in the top 10 rounds as a hitter, Cleveland said. But now that he has shown power stuff on the mound, the projections are even higher.
“Scouts have told me he would have been a first-rounder had he been eligible this year,” Cleveland said. “At worst, he will go in the top two rounds.”
Given the money that top prospects sign for, it’s a good bet Toussaint will sign a pro contract in 2014.
But that is not necessarily true, said Toussaint, who is interested in studying sports medicine. He originally committed to the University of Miami but has since re-opened his recruitment.
“My mom wants me to get an education,” he said. “She is always saying: ‘What if your arm blows out?’
“Education is a big thing for her, and I respect her a lot.”