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New Routine Helps Touki Toussaint Shine

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BEST PLAYER

Outfielder Drew Waters, a 2017 second-rounder out of the Atlanta area, has displayed his five-tool ability at a more polished level than the Braves expected at this point in his young career.

Serving as leadoff hitter for low Class A Rome, Waters is developing into a prototypical center fielder with pop. Aggressive in all phases of the game, he has displayed impressive range as well as a strong, accurate arm.

Waters' bat has above-average power with room to grow. Named a starter in the South Atlantic League all-star game, the switch-hitter hit .292/.340/.517 with eight home runs through 65 games to go with a league-leading 23 doubles.

"Drew Waters is going to be a very special player,” field coordinator Dave Trembley said. "He can run, throw, defend. He can hit for power and he can hit from both sides of the plate to all fields. He’s young, and he’s really made a lot of progress with his approach to professional baseball.”

BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD

The biggest contributor at Double-A Mississippi has been Southern League all-star and 22-year-old righthander Touki Toussaint.

Heralded as a potential star since the D-backs made him the 16th overall pick out of high school in 2014, Toussaint has blossomed after beginning the season as the seventh-youngest player in the SL. The Braves acquired him in 2015 in a cost-cutting trade made by Arizona.

He is mixing his power arsenal with improved control, which he used to lead the circuit with 107 strikeouts before he was promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett. He finished his SL time with a 2.93 ERA, .208 opponent average and an improved walk rate of 3.8 per nine inning.

"There’s been a real maturation process with Touki,” Trembley said. "We’ve always liked his physical abilities. What’s really helped elevate his game is the mental side. He’s established a definite routine before he pitches. I think he’s really taken to a game plan.

"We all like the stuff he has. He has an electric arm and he’s a great athlete with a real good finish on all of his pitches. His improvement has been noted each time he goes out there.”

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SMOKE SIGNALS

** Shortstop Riley Delgado has been an unheralded piece to Rome’s success, which includes the first half crown in the SAL’s Southern Division. The Middle Tennessee State product’s contributions go beyond his league-leading 94 hits, second-ranked .332 average and fourth-ranked .378 on-base percentage. "He’s just a steady, steady baseball player,” Trembley said. "He doesn’t say a whole lot, but he has a presence on that young team.”

** Lefthander Bruce Zimmerman went 7-3, 2.76 in 14 starts at Rome before receiving a two-step bump to Mississippi. In his first Double-A start, he allowed one earned run, six hits and three walks while striking out 10 batters in 6.1 innings versus Pensacola.

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