Looking professional, Toussaint ready to begin career
JUN 22, 2014 12:32a ET
PHOENIX -- With a checkered red bow tie on his neck and a BMW on his shopping list, Diamondbacks first-round draft pick Touki Toussaint made a striking impression at his introductory press conference on Saturday.
Toussaint, a shortstop turned right-handed pitcher, always believes in shooting high. He grew up idolizing Jackie Robinson and considers Pedro Martinez and Jose Fernandez pitchers to emulate.
"Because they have that that fire, and I love it," Toussaint said. "You are supposed to have fun and they have fun, and they know how to compete."
General Manager Kevin Towers even dropped a "young Bob Gibson" reference on Toussaint the night he was selected 16th overall after a dominating season at Coral Springs (Fla.) Christian Academy. Toussaint's fastball was clocked in the mid- to high-90 mph range.
"He was dominant," Toussaint said of Gibson. "I hope to be like him some day. We'll see."
On his 18th birthday Friday -- a birthday he shares with the mother who raised him in a single-parent household -- Toussaint got rich. The slot value for the 16th player taken was $2,338,200, but Toussaint agreed to a singing bonus that was above slot to turn pro rather that accept a scholarship offer from Vanderbilt, which has produced top major league pitchers as David Price, Mike Minor and Sonny Gray.
The exact signing bonus was not disclosed.
"It was really tough. I respect my mom and my grandma, and they want me to go to school, but I'm going to get my education after I finish playing," Toussaint said.
"They were very understanding. It was an opportunity that not too many kids get, so I'm just going to ride with it. They said we are still here for you. If you need anything, call us."
Toussaint first caught the D-backs' attention as a sophomore shortstop when regional scout Frankie Thon and scouting supervisor Greg Lonigro were in the Miami area to scout a 2012 draft prospect on the other team.
"While we were watching the draftee, we were watching Touki play shortstop. Not a great hitter. Good defender. Good athlete," Thon said. "Then he gets on the mound in the last inning and a couple of pitches into it we kind of look at each other like, 'Wow.' We said we are going to be back to see him in a couple of years."
"We saw the arm action, the athlete and we're going this could be pretty special. Two years later, here we are."
He will wear No. 21, half of Jackie Robinson's 42. He wanted 20, but it was retired to honor Luis Gonzalez. His next choice was Kirk Gibson's No. 23, also gone.
Toussaint threw a bullpen session at Salt River Fields on Saturday morning, the first time he threw off a mound in about three weeks. He will start his career in the rookie Arizona League, where most high school draftees begin their careers.
"We'd like to get him comfortable and acclimated to what the daily grind is and how to go about being a professional," D-backs scouting director Ray Montgomery said. "We will give him a couple of weeks to build back up."