SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The 17-year-old son of a former Haitian presidential candidate is the Arizona Diamondbacks' first-round draft pick.
Touki Toussaint, who grew up playing soccer before turning his attention to baseball at about age 12, was the 16th player selected overall Thursday.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound right-hander pitched for Coral Springs (Florida) Christian Academy and was 6-2 as a high s school senior with a 0.82 ERA, 86 strikeouts and 33 walks in 45 innings.
Tony La Russa, named Arizona's chief of baseball operations last month, was in the room when the pick was made.
General manager Kevin Towers said the Diamondbacks didn't expect Toussaint to be there at No. 16.
"Tremendous upside, relatively new to pitching, a great athlete," Towers said. "He kind of reminds me when you watch him on video as a young Bob Gibson. The ball comes out of his hand real easy."
Toussaint, who turns 18 next month, has signed a letter of intent with Vanderbilt. He said he would talk with his family before making a decision on whether to turn pro or go to college.
"I just want to play baseball," he said.
Toussaint was born in Florida but moved to Haiti to be with his father at 3 months old. In Haiti, where his father was a senator, he said he lived a privileged life.
"My dad was a candidate for president so I had whatever I wanted. I would ask for something and it would happen," he said. "Coming to America it was different. I had to cook my own food, I had to clean the dishes. I had to do chores and stuff, a lot of responsibility."
He was playing soccer when his best friend lured him to baseball at age 10.
"I was like 'I don't know what baseball is. I'm Haitian,'" Toussaint said.
He said he struck out 22 out of 24 times at bat as a 10-year-old, then quit.
Continue reading this story on the...