Braves 2021 Player Review: Touki Toussaint

Touki Toussaint’s career has been up and down, to put it lightly. He’s now pitched in the MLB across parts of 4 seasons and hasn’t shown the potential that landed him on top prospect rankings. He has still only pitched 145 innings, but holds a 5.46 ERA and a 1.497 WHIP. Both of these are a far cry from his 2018 season where he held a 2.38 ERA and 1.13 WHIP across 136 innings between AA and AAA. Touki topped the MLB prospect rankings in 2019, when he started the year as number 50 on MLB Pipeline’s top 100 and 6th on the Braves list.

What’s Gone Wrong?

The short answer? A little of everything. Drafted as the Diamondbacks 1st rounder in 2014, the Braves traded for Toussaint in 2015, and maybe rushed him through the minors a bit calling him up at just 22 years old. Since his call up in 2018 he has barely eclipsed 200 IP across 4 seasons. He’s had his fair share of injuries derailing progress, but he really just hasn’t reached his potential. He’s had many short outings due to imploding; he’s been tried out as a reliever to no avail. It seems like 2022 may be his last shot, if he even gets that.

2021 Overview

Unfortunately, Toussaint’s 2021 season was cut a bit short with the passing of his father. He stepped away from the team to focus on his family and mental wellbeing, but then struck with grief again on New Year’s Day when his brother Jerry passed as well. He threw just 50 innings across 11 games in 2021, but overall didn’t do too bad. He had 3 bad outings, surrendering 7, 4 and 4 ER, but the other 7 starts were all 3 ER or less and 5+ IP and he had one scoreless relief inning. Hopefully he can improve upon that success in 2022, but his main issue thus far has always been command and consistency. We also must keep in mind the immense losses he has faced personally, and it wouldn’t be unreasonable if he doesn’t end up returning to the Braves immediately when Spring Training or the season start. The last thing anybody wants is another Luis Gohara scenario where after his father passed he immediately came back to the game and seemingly hit a brick wall to never again be the same pitcher.

2022 Preview

Assuming Toussaint does return, I think he learned a lot in 2021 about just pitching. If he gets the ball in the zone consistently, he has the stuff to get hitters out. He can be a solid major leaguer whether that is as a back-end starter or a middle reliever. Either way, the Braves will need to pick one and stick to it so they will not further stunt his growth. Believe it or not, Touki is still just 25 years old. He has some time to grow, but he’s reaching the end of the line as a prospect. Baseball reference is projecting Touki will throw 77 innings with a 4.79 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. This would be a step backwards for Touki and would likely mean the end of the road, at least for his Braves tenure. My hope is he continues to grow and grabs an opportunity as a reliever where he can get consistent innings and learn to pitch all out for just one inning.

Author: Matt P

Hello, I’m Matt Pocza! I am a 4th year finance and economics student at the University of Florida and I love the Atlanta Braves. I’ve played baseball my entire life, and I am a sidearm pitcher for the club team at Florida. I also enjoy scuba diving, football and business. Follow me on twitter @braves_rumors!

29 thoughts on “Braves 2021 Player Review: Touki Toussaint”

  1. Unlike Newk, I think Touki is a starter. He would probably be better off figuring it out with the Pirates or Rangers.

  2. I agree. I think he needs a team to let him fail for a year or two. I still think his potential is high but we’ll probably never give him the reps he needs.

    I wish we had sold higher on him or another pitching prospect from that group, but we just won the World Series so it’s hard to get too upset.

    Unrelated, but I get the terrible feeling Freddie is going to walk pretty soon after after the lockout ends. I know it’s been speculated the Braves floated the story about Olson for leverage but I don’t see why. If Freeman leaves the A’s can hold us over a barrel and the prospect cost + extension for Olson will far exceed anything Freeman gets. It doesn’t seem like AA’s style to telegraph a move like that to the press.

  3. Snitker and I are roughly the same age, so this is (to me) hilarious. And, by the way, my wife said the same thing to me.

    https://theathletic.com/3108481/2022/02/02/schultz-brian-snitker-on-lockout-freddie-freeman-and-second-guessing-himself-on-rebroadcasts/?source=dailyemail&campaign=601983

    Have you relived the World Series at all? Have you re-watched any games?

    So this is funny. I hadn’t re-watched any of the games. Then a week ago, I’m sitting at home, and they were showing back-to-back NLCS games on MLB. I mean, I don’t remember the Dodgers series at all. I don’t even remember the Milwaukee series. But I was sitting there watching the games, and I was getting all worked up, and my wife walks by and she says, “Hey, dumbass, you won the game.” I think I felt better in the dugout when I didn’t know what was going to happen than I did watching them again on TV. I was like, “Why did I take Ian (Anderson) out there?” I was second-guessing everything I did. I was like everybody else sitting at home, haha. But at some point, I really want to sit down and watch them again. It was really amazing.

  4. Speaking of which, has anyone been able to find Ben Ingram’s call of Soler’s big home run?

  5. This is great!

    Question from Schultz to Snitker:

    Have you relived the World Series at all? Have you re-watched any games?

    So this is funny. I hadn’t re-watched any of the games. Then a week ago, I’m sitting at home, and they were showing back-to-back NLCS games on MLB. I mean, I don’t remember the Dodgers series at all. I don’t even remember the Milwaukee series. But I was sitting there watching the games, and I was getting all worked up, and my wife walks by and she says, “Hey, dumbass, you won the game.” I think I felt better in the dugout when I didn’t know what was going to happen than I did watching them again on TV. I was like, “Why did I take Ian (Anderson) out there?” I was second-guessing everything I did. I was like everybody else sitting at home, haha. But at some point, I really want to sit down and watch them again. It was really amazing.

  6. There was a great clip circulating around Twitter yesterday showing the Braves’ top 4 cWPA plays from each series and while it was great to watch, I couldn’t help be filled with a little sadness. So many great moments with Joc, Eddie, Soler and even Freddie and at this point we don’t know if any of them will be on the team. If we had to bet, I don’t think anyone would expect more than 2 will be back. I know I’m thinking with my heart here, but I’d sure love to see Eddie and Soler not just be remembered as the hired guns who got hot at the right time. I love to see them with the Braves for years to come.

  7. David O’Brien had a really good return to his podcast this past week. And he made a point that I think most would argue on, but would want to hear opinions. I think I know where ububba is on this:

    If Andruw Jones, Dale Murphy, and Fred McGriff played their careers for the Yankees and in that market, would they all be Hall of Famers? DOB says yes, I say yes.

    In other news, I have done a full 180 on DOB. He is a classic example of someone who just doesn’t get along with people on Twitter but is a perfectly delightful person once you hear enough of him, and I regret how much that affects his ability to actually, ya know, do his job when people form their opinions of him based on how snarky he is on the Twitter machine. Bad online/on Twitter; pleasant in real life. Heh, I guess I can relate.

  8. I know I’m thinking with my heart here, but I’d sure love to see Eddie and Soler not just be remembered as the hired guns who got hot at the right time.

    I’m right there with you, but yes, I do think it’s that we’re thinking with our hearts. Unfortunately, being a mid-market team is that you have to adopt strategies like grabbing a bunch of lottery tickets at the deadline and hoping they work out. Boy, did it…

    But they had a role to play and shoes to fill because our hero was injured. There’s no doubt in my mind that if Acuna were not injured, some of those big moments by Joc/Rosario/Soler/Duvall would have been filled by Acuna, if anything, by default. And then we’d be talking about those huge walk offs/late game heroics by Acuna, Freeman, and Riley were the lasting memories. I saw that same tweet and videos about the cWPA, and Acuna does a couple of those things if he’s not injured.

  9. Completely off-topic: what would have happened if Pujols, who was proooooobably not as young as he said he was coming up, came clean about his age? I think we were probably seeing a 45, 46 year old man hobbling around these past few years.

    Would the league have any recourse against him? There’s no way he was getting the deal he got if they knew how old he actually was. Would he owe money? Personally, I don’t care. If he squeezed an extra $50-60M out of these fat cats, then that’s awesome and hilarious, and if that’s true, I hope we hear the story about it one day.

  10. 9 – It’s a good question and I’m not sure I know the answer. There are some pseudo comparable players who didn’t benefit from wearing the pinstripes though they aren’t perfect comparisons. Mattingly, Bernie and Posada could have decent arguments but none of them got close. Of course I think McGriff was better than Mattingly and Jones was better than Bernie. Murph, you could argue whether he was better than Bernie, Murph had the MVPs, Bernie had the longevity and postseason. Cone was basically Smoltz without the closer years and Cone didn’t sniff election while Smoltz went first ballot. Took Mussina longer than it should have too.

    Honestly Boston might be better at electing their marginal players with Rice in and Ortiz going first ballot. Though Evans, Schilling and Manny wound up on the wrong side of the HOF line.

  11. If Braves continue to be tight wads and won’t pay to keep the franchise player them i may have to become a Dodger or Yankee fan cause they gonna blow money everywhere to try to have a winner .. the Braves owners sitting back enjoying the fruits now and all the money they making from last year and gonna not go spend to stay there
    . Disappointing to say the least.. by Freddie enjoy NY ….

  12. @13: But then you’d have to change your handle to “Dodgey” or “Yankey.” Not as good!

  13. @ 11, Rob,

    I read a good article about Pujols and his age about 4 years ago. Can’t remember where. The writer essentially proved that Pujols was 2 years older than listed. Pujols gave an interview about playing in the Dominican and facing a pitcher “after his great major league debut.” That had a specific known date. And, he said how old he was (18?) and, if he was, then he was 2 years older than reported.
    If you look at his career, the age curve fits much better with that assumption.
    Also, that gives you even more appreciation for the ageless wonder, Julio Franco.

  14. Greetings from Honolulu…

    #9
    Well, y’know, McGriff was actually drafted by the Yankees, but they traded him to Toronto for nothing after 1 or 2 years in the low minors. (They had Mattingly, who had already torn up the minors & was ready for the show). But Steinbrenner made a lotta dumb trades in the 1980s…

    If McGriff played his career in Yankee Stadium, he woulda had a lotta more HRs to the short porch in RF, so I think his numbers would be better & he woulda probably made it.

    Murphy, to me, would be like Mattingly — terrific, but probably not enough great years for Hall voters. And, believe me, nobody was as popular as Mattingly when he was in The Bronx, but after he hurt his back he was never going to make it. FWIW, Murphy, Mattingly & Chuck Knoblauch are in similar career WAR territory.

    Andruw? If he had started his career in The Bronx, I actually believe he might’ve been run out of town. Despite his insane talent, it took him awhile to act & play like a pro. The non-hustle stuff at the beginning of his career would’ve have played well in that town.

    But forgetting that idea, I think his talents just weren’t ever going to be fully appreciated during his career. Ultimately, I still believe he can get in. (Although, I must say, steroids has ruined the Hall for me — I kinda don’t care anymore. All things are not equal & the most recent vote just solidified my disengagement.)

    I mean, the great Yankee teams between, say, 1996 – 2001 had a slew of borderline HoF guys (Cone, Pettitte, Bernie) that’ll probably never get in. But, to me, the only no-doubter HoF guys are Rivera and Jeter. (Clemens is another conversation.)

    As it relates to the HoF, being a very good/winning player in New York doesn’t really mean anything more than if it were in another town, to be honest. I mean, the two most popular players in The Bronx in the ’70s & ’80s, by far, were Munson & Mattingly. No chance they’ll get into Cooperstown.

  15. @16, good point — though I think the two teams function a bit differently in that respect. The Yankees don’t mind if you’re a superstar, they just won’t give you any extra credit. Obviously, people who came over as farmhands are more beloved than hired guns or trade acquisitions, but I think Yankee fans are more willing to embrace superstars than Mets fans. What do you think?

    In the Bronx, they loved Sheffield, but they were deeply skeptical of A-Rod. Giambi and Teixeira were back page punchlines, but Paul O’Neill was a total star. They love overachievers and hate underachievers, and the bigger your production before you come to New York, the bigger the target on your back: no wonder Reggie Jackson had such a hard time living up to his own hype.

    However, I kind of think Mets fans grade on a reverse sliding scale: the more of a superstar you are, the harder you have to work to bring them over to your side. Weirdly, I don’t think they loved David Wright nearly as much as they loved Robin Ventura. Sure, they loved Piazza, but I don’t think they loved him nearly as much as they loved Edgardo Alfonzo. It feels like they respect Jacob DeGrom far more than they adore him. The one recent superstar I can remember Mets fans really taking a shine to is Mo Vaughn.

    You know what I mean?

  16. Andruw Jones as a long term Yankee: maybe/probably

    I also think he suffers for the era he played in. If he had been a 50s player with that stat line and the profile as the greatest or maybe 2nd greatest fielding CF of all time, he’d have been a first ballot HOF’er even with his depressed BA. Ironically, he was so bad at the end of his career, he’d probably have been better off to have just retired sooner. If his career had ended in 2007, maybe he’s viewed differently. Instead, he was around to hit .158, .197, and .214. IMO those seasons are killing his chances. Because there were several of them. Most of the greats had a bad final season. But not 5.

    Dale as a long term Yankee: still no

    See above: Dale’s career fell off a cliff and his last 5 years were really really bad. A .265 BA and 398 HRs won’t hunt. He checks off some of the Keltner list, but not nearly enough. And I say all this saying he was my favorite player and I’m considering shelling out $650.00 for the Dale Murphy VIP experience if there actually is a season this year.

    Fred McGriff as a long term Yankee: maybe/probably

    134 OPS+, only 7 HR shy of 500 and lifetime .284 BA is pretty damn good.

  17. I love that the MLB and the MLBPA utilize the same negotiation strategies as my 1st grade daughter.

  18. My negotiations professor started out the class by saying that the best negotiators in the world are four-year-old children.

  19. It would be hilarious if it weren’t so pathetic. MLB’s strategy was transparently hoping the players would cave once the prospect of missing games grew closer, and when that didn’t happen, they demanded to speak to the manager.

  20. Bernie was almost 20 fWAR shy compared to Andruw. Basically Andruw was multiple All-Star seasons ahead of Bernie. So if Bernie is even being compared to Andruw, then that almost tells me that he’s getting a New York bump right there.

    Same with Mattingly vs. McGriff. McGriff had 16 more fWAR. If Bernie and Mattingly are getting any HoF love whatsoever, then this might be evidence that guys that played in New York are more fondly remembered.

  21. @23 It’s a pretty common form of negotiation to try to find what the other side really, really doesn’t want and try to exploit that. It would be pretty stupid for them to know the players don’t want to miss games and not use that to their advantage.

    With that said, the MLBPA is punching back at every turn, and I love it. I think if one side gets dragged to the table, then I think that’s bad for the sport long-term. But if both sides fight as hard as they can to get everything they can, then I think the sport sees less issues down the road. Or, well, fingers crossed on that.

  22. Brinkmanship wasn’t ideal with nuclear weapons, and I’m not sure it’s the best idea here either.

  23. Bernie isn’t getting any HOF love. Posada has a better case and he isn’t, either. The guy who’s more interesting than either of them is Cone. He’s on the bubble, I’d say.

  24. I look at it this way. If they go on strike and it lasts forever, the Braves will be the reigning WS Champs for the rest of my life.

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