Dany Gilbert Kiti “Touki” Toussaint (/ˈtuːki tuˈsɑːnt/; born June 20, 1996) is a Haitian-American currently playing for the Atlanta Braves. He was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first round of the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft.
Toussaint started the first game of spring training for the Braves in 2019. When Touki Toussaint hears others speak glowingly about his confidence and poise, he feels fortunate to be able to laugh about the scary experience he endured just two years ago, when he battled the yips.
Toussaint opened the February 23, 2019 outing by recording 11 strikes in a perfect 14-pitch first inning. He used the curveball to strike out Jeff McNeil and opened the second inning by getting Michael Conforto to swing through a two-strike fastball. Toussaint’s attempt to escape the two-inning outing unscathed evaporated when Pete Alonso smacked a first-pitch fastball over the left-center-field fence.
Toussaint was born in Pembroke Pines, Florida, to Dany Toussaint and Kahaso Kiti. He is of Haitian and Kenyan descent. Toussaint’s nickname, Touki, is a portmanteau of his parents’ surnames. The family moved to Haiti when he was three months old. Toussaint and his mother moved back to Florida when he was six.
He stopped playing baseball at age 10 due to a strikeout-filled season, and focused on soccer and hockey only to return to baseball two years later. Toussaint attended Coral Springs Charter School for his freshman year before transferring to Coral Springs Christian Academy also in Coral Springs, Florida.
As a junior in 2013, Toussaint was a MaxPreps All-American after he was 6–2 with a 0.78 earned run average (ERA) and 83 strikeouts. He also hit .458 with six home runs and 32 runs batted in. He was named Broward County’s Class 5A-4A-3A-2A Player of the Year. Toussaint committed to play college baseball at Vanderbilt University. So how did he do? He didn’t attend.
Toussaint was considered one of the top prospects for the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft. The Arizona Diamondbacks selected Toussaint in the first round, 16th overall, of the draft. He signed on June 20, agreeing to a $2.7 million signing bonus, and made his professional debut with the Arizona League Diamondbacks on July 2.
A month later, on August 3, he was promoted to the Missoula Osprey. Six days after his promotion, Toussaint made his Class A Advanced debut against the Idaho Falls Chukars. Toussaint finished his first professional season with a 2–4 record and 8.48 ERA over 12 total appearances. Toussaint began the 2015 season at extended spring training, then joined the Kane County Cougars in May.
On June 20, 2015 he was traded to the Atlanta Braves along with Bronson Arroyo for Phil Gosselin. He finished the 2015 season with a 4.83 ERA in 17 total starts, including 5.73 ERA in ten starts as a member of the Rome Braves. The rocky season was attributed to the Diamondbacks’ request that Toussaint cut down on the use of his curveball, shortly after his debut for Kane County, as the team felt that becoming excessively reliant on the pitch early in his career would lead to injury.
Not throwing his curveball gave Toussaint time to improve his changeup, which became a viable third pitch over the course of the season. Toussaint spent 2016 with Rome. He struggled to begin the season, but improved after making adjustments to his pitching delivery.
Toussaint began 2017 with the Florida Fire Frogs and was promoted to the Mississippi Braves in late July 2017, making his Southern League debut on July 31 against the Mobile BayBears.
In 145 total innings pitched between Florida and Mississippi, he pitched to a 6–13 record with a 4.53 ERA along with 167 strikeouts. He appeared in the offseason Arizona Fall League with the Peoria Javelinas. Toussaint started the 2018 season in Mississippi, recording a 2.93 ERA with 107 strikeouts until a midseason promotion to the Gwinnett Stripers.
Toussaint faced the Norfolk Tides in his first International League game on July 5, 2018, pitching 6 2⁄3 innings while yielding one run on five hits. He was named to the All-Star Futures Game, and appeared in relief to pitch the eighth inning.
On August 13, 2018, the Braves purchased Toussaint’s contract and added him to the roster. He made his major league debut the same day with a start against the Miami Marlins, yielding one run on two hits in six innings pitched.
Toussaint went 2-1 in 2018 with a .403 ERA. With 29 innings pitched, he had a WHIP of 1.34.