Miami-Dade High Schools

Touki Toussaint could be first South Florida player picked in Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft

Touki Toussaint has a great fastball that touches 97 mph and a devastating curveball that has been hard to handle by not only opposing batters but his catcher as well.

On Thursday, he is expected to be the first South Florida player taken in Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft.

Toussaint has signed with Vanderbilt and has said he will honor that commitment.

The big money thrown his way could change that.

Toussaint, who played at Coral Springs Christian and led the Crusaders to the state final four, is expected to go in the first round. has Toussaint going to the San Diego Padres at No. 13 in its mock draft; USA Today has him going to the Toronto Blue Jays with the 11th pick. The assigned bonus for a player taken at No. 11 is $2.9 million and drops to $2.7 million at 13th.

“I believe he can be the face of a franchise of a major-league team,” Coral Springs Christian coach Matt Cleveland said. “He has that kind of talent and is a good, engaging kid who works hard. The sky is the limit.”

Toussaint was born in Pembroke Pines before moving to Haiti as an infant. He returned to Broward at age 6. Toussaint’s first love was soccer, but he picked up baseball when he was 11 and turned out to be pretty good at it.

Toussaint enrolled at Coral Springs Christian as a sophomore after attending Coral Springs Charter as a freshman. It wasn’t long before his live arm was noticed by scouts.

Although Toussaint — the Miami Herald’s Class 5A-2A Pitcher of the Year this season — should be the first area player taken Thursday, he might not be alone.

The MLB Draft is a three-day event, with Thursday’s opening night consisting of the first two rounds as well as compensatory and competitive-balance picks.

A few players could go in the opening rounds, including American Heritage shortstop Milton Ramos, FIU catcher Aramis Garcia and University of Miami lefties Andrew Suarez and Chris Diaz.

American outfielder Ronnie Williams is expected to go on the second day of the draft (Rounds 3-10) along with the likes of UM outfielder Dale Carey, Heritage outfielder Todd Issacs and Archbishop McCarthy pitcher Brian Gonzalez.

Coral Springs Charter’s Benito Santiago, son of the former All-Star catcher, is also expected to be taken on the second day. Santiago, an All-Broward catcher who hit .416 this season, has signed with the University of Tennessee.

“He’s an excellent player,” Cleveland said of Santiago, adding that he and Toussaint “are the best I’ve ever coached.”