Toussaint acquisition a coup for Braves
That Braves general manager John Hart added another blue-chip prospect to his farm system Saturday night was no surprise. That he added D-backs 2014 first-round pick Touki Toussaint at the low, low cost of assuming roughly $9.5 million on Bronson Arroyo's contract and giving up Phil Gosselin was a shock.
Since he took over as Atlanta's GM last September, Hart has engineered trades to acquire pitching prospects Manny Banuelos, Mike Foltynewicz, Max Fried, Tyrell Jenkins, Ricardo Sanchez, Andrew Thurman, Arodys Vizcaino and Matt Wisler, as well as position prospects Jose Briceno, Jordan Paroubeck, Dustin Peterson, Rio Ruiz and Mallex Smith. He's also acquired young big league veterans Shelby Miller and Jace Peterson.
In return, Hart parted with All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel, three of the Braves' four best hitters from 2014 (Justin Upton, Evan Gattis, Jason Heyward), a fourth regular (Tommy La Stella) and three more of their top relievers (Jordan Walden, David Hale, David Carpenter).
Those moves sacrificed a bit of Atlanta's present -- though it's just 1 1/2 games out of first place in the National League East -- while significantly brightening its future. The Braves' system was one of the game's thinnest before Hart took over, and since has been built into one of the strongest.
Considering that teams have restrictions as to what they can spend on amateur talent, acquiring a right-hander whom some scouts considered to have the most electric arm in the 2014 Draft, in exchange for a $9.5 million salary dump (Arroyo is recovering from Tommy John surgery) and a backup infielder was a coup.
Toussaint, who turned 19 on the day he was traded, has two potentially outstanding pitches in a 92-96 mph fastball and a curveball with depth. He also exhibits feel for a changeup that could become a solid third offering. He currently ranks No. 83 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list.
Though he's still learning to harness his pitches and will need some time to develop, Toussaint has the upside of a frontline starter. After recording an 8.58 ERA in his pro debut, he has made progress this year at low Class A Kane County, going 2-2, with a 3.69 ERA and a 29/15 K/BB ratio in 39 innings. His most recent start on Friday was the best of his pro career, as he pitched six scoreless innings while allowing just one hit and one walk and struck out five.
In explaining the trade to the media, Arizona GM Dave Stewart said that his organization had more advanced pitchers in its farm system than Toussaint and that he had to be included to move Arroyo's contract to the Braves.
Officials with other teams were surprised that Toussaint essentially was given away, and the D-backs may well rue the move in the future.