Breakout Season Lands Touki Toussaint Late Bid To Futures Game
WASHINGTON D.C -- When Touki Toussaint saw Braves farm director Dom Chiti’s name appear on his caller ID Saturday afternoon, the 22-year-old righthander feared the worst.
“When I saw his name pop up I did kind of get nervous (because I thought I’d been traded),” Toussaint said. “When you see that name pop this time of year you’re like ‘Oh snap’.
“But then he asked ‘Do you want to play in the Futures Game?’ and all the nervousness calmed down.”
Toussaint was made the final addition to the Futures Game rosters on Saturday afternoon. He got the call with just over 24 hours until the game, and quickly hopped on a plane to Washington D.C., where he will pitch for the World team representing his family’s ancestral home of Haiti.
“Honestly I was speechless, I didn’t even know what to say,” Toussaint said. “I called my mom right after and she was actually doing groceries at Sam’s Club and I told her I was going to the Futures Game and pitching for the World Team and she just started losing it. She was at the counter like ‘I gotta go, I gotta go.’ She’s on her way today.”
Toussaint’s selection to the Futures Game would have seemed unlikely a year ago. He began last season at high Class A Florida and went 3-9, 5.04 in 19 starts for the Fire Frogs while struggling with his command.
But while he was scuffling, Toussaint had an epiphany that laid the groundwork for his breakout. Where before he was trying to be so perfect as to not allow a single run, he began instead began focusing on becoming more pitch efficient and lasting deeper into games.
“Get deep into games, that was all I started to focus on,” Toussaint said. “Don’t care how many runs you give up, if you can go seven innings you better go seven innings. It’s all about pitch management and getting through a lineup and stuff like that. Early on I was like ‘I don’t want to give up any runs’ but now it’s like ‘All right I need to go six or seven, eight, nine.’ You give up five runs in the first, you better go six or seven. That’s definitely a key mindset change for me.”
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Funny enough, by not focusing on how many runs he allowed, Toussaint is allowing fewers runs than ever. He posted a 3.18 ERA after a late-season promotion to Double-A Mississippi, came back and lowered his ERA to 2.93 at Mississippi this season, and earned a promotion to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he allowed one run in 6.2 innings in his first start.
It’s turned him from a heretofore somewhat disappointing former first-round pick into a worthy Futures Gamer, and brought him to Nationals Park.
“It’s humbling to be here with the best guys, the future,” Toussaint said. “I’m just trying to stay consistent, see where it takes me. Being here does give you that excitement, but at the same time you know you have to stay grounded and stay humble. Stay consistent and stay within yourself, that’s what I’m trying to do.”