Scouting Reports: Toussaint & Holmes

Kiley shares notes on the two prep arms he saw last week that have pitched their way in the top 10.

I've seen/scouted Coral Springs Christian HS righty Touki Toussaint (Vanderbilt commit) so much that the above video, the most recent one I've taken of him, is the 6th video I've posted from the 8 times I've seen him pitch.

Toussaint has shown steady long-term improvement but his most recent outing at the heavily-scouted NHSI tournament in Cary, NC was the large-scale coming-out party. I mentioned before the tournament that Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos had scouted Toussaint as a target for the 9th/11th overall picks that Toronto owns, among other high-level scouts scouting Touki's every movement. I saw him early in the spring and in the middle innings of a 5 inning outing, Toussaint flashed the new ability to gear-down his stuff a notch in favor of command, giving him feel for two plus pitches and developing changeup.

In Cary, Touki's changeup was the best I've ever seen it, repeatedly a 55 pitch on the 20-80 scale and could be a 60 with pro instruction. His curveball, which has been a 70 pitch at times along with his mid-90's fastball that's hit 97 mph were both more well-commanded and both 60 pitches. The intrigue with Toussaint is now that he's shown the ability for 50 command of three 55-60 pitches, but we know there is 70 stuff in there, will he eventually figure out how to also command that?

Toussaint pitched at 92-94 early, flashing plus life, which was often cut to his glove side but also some two-seam life to his arm side at times. He settled a tick lower and still had some command issues, but not more than is expected with a prep first rounder--Touki's athleticism and aggressive delivery give you hope that he'll made the adjustments with age. The curveball was 74-76 mph at it's best and the changeup was 83-85 mph.

Some of Toussaint's command problems came when he tried to throw his changeup to a right-hander and it slipped out of his hand, so he's clearly hearing my/other scout's criticisms and trying to get out of his comfort zone. I'll put out new rankings in a few weeks, but expect to see him in the top 10 and I don't think he gets out of the top 10-15 picks.

Conway HS (SC) righty Grant Holmes (Florida commit) was another big-time prep arm I wrote about before last year's draft, as he's been on the radar for awhile. He went to almost all of the big events this summer/fall and stood out every time. The short list of negatives were his limited size (6'1 or 6'2 and maxed-out physically), the slight length to his arm action and the lack of a changeup, though I was told he threw that pitch in his junior spring a good bit.

While the prep arms have moved up, down and all around this spring, Holmes has moved up from his preseason perch in the middle of the first round to now be a solid top 10 pick candidate with Toussaint. Holmes' arm action may be a little long, which for some pitchers would cause command issues, but it doesn't cause him any problems. He was confidently locating three pitches to both sides of the plate in front of over 50 scouts on the Monday after NHSI. I had been told the third pitch, a changeup, was being used a lot this spring and it looked good.

Early on, Holmes was 92-95, hitting 96 mph in the first inning with average life to the pitch and an above average 79-81 mph curveball. By the third inning, he settled in at 90-93 mph as the lineup he was facing wasn't that strong, but saved some 94's for when he needed them. I happened to video during the three batter blip in his outing, when he walked two and gave up a single, which he then followed with three straight punch-outs before cruising to a complete game shutout victory. It almost seemed like Holmes was upping the degree of difficulty to see if he could wiggle out.

His curveball that was a 55 early but had been a 60 all summer came back late in the game and you could hang a 65 on it because he commanded it so well, something I said about Marlins righty Jose Fernandez a few years ago. After throwing one changeup early in the game, Holmes had a sequence where he threw three in a row to a batter in the 6th and it was an easy 55 pitch that he was able to command in a big moment. The confidence that throw that slower pitch into a prep hitter's bat speed in a close game was especially impressive, but Holmes knew to locate it on the fringes of the strike zone.

Holmes has 55 command of three 55-60 pitches and the ability to add and subtract with advanced feel for his craft. Right now, I slightly prefer him to Toussaint due to the higher floor from the command, comfortably putting Holmes in the top 10 as well and possibly even in the top tier of talent. The fact that Touki has that extra gear of stuff that could come up at any point is enticing, but I've seen both of these pitchers a lot and trust Holmes to reach his ceiling with less bumps along the way than almost any prep pitcher in recent memory.

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