Touki Toussaintâ€™s career has been up and down, to put it lightly. Heâ€™s now pitched in the MLB across parts of 4 seasons and hasnâ€™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 Pipelineâ€™s top 100 and 6th on the Braves list.
Whatâ€™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. Heâ€™s had his fair share of injuries derailing progress, but he really just hasnâ€™t reached his potential. Heâ€™s had many short outings due to imploding; heâ€™s been tried out as a reliever to no avail. It seems like 2022 may be his last shot, if he even gets that.
Unfortunately, Toussaintâ€™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 Yearâ€™s Day when his brother Jerry passed as well. He threw just 50 innings across 11 games in 2021, but overall didnâ€™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 wouldnâ€™t be unreasonable if he doesnâ€™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.
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 heâ€™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.