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Toussaint is crown jewel of D-backs' Draft class

Team envisions high school right-hander as top-of-rotation starter in future

Toussaint is crown jewel of D-backs' Draft class play video for Toussaint is crown jewel of D-backs' Draft class

PHOENIX -- Regardless of how the last two days went, the D-backs may have walked away with the steal of the Draft in the first hour.

With their first pick -- No. 16 overall -- the D-backs took high school right-hander Touki Toussaint out of Coral Springs (Fla.) Christian Academy. MLB.com ranked Toussaint No. 8 in this year's Top 200 Draft prospects.

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"Really excited to add this type of arm, add this type of athlete," D-backs scouting director Ray Montgomery said. "As we took about so often, you can never have enough good arms and good pitching, and this just adds another starter."

Toussaint, a Vanderbilt commit, throws his fastball in the low-to-mid 90s and adds in a curveball and changeup. All pitches still need development, but the D-backs are confident they just added a top-of-the-rotation pitcher.

D-backs general manager Kevin Towers had a bold comparison for the teenage pitcher: Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson.

"Ball comes out of his hand real easy, he's got a power breaking ball, fastball in the mid 90s, good athlete, fields his position well," Towers said. "He's a guy that we think once our development people wrap their arms around him, a kid that we think has a chance to be a top-of-the-rotation-type starter here in the very near future."

The D-backs stuck with the strategy of drafting high school players through the rest of their first-day selections and into Day 2.

Their second pick, left-hander Cody Reed, moved up the Draft boards after his fastball velocity rose from the high 80s to 92-95. The added speed helped him strike out 226 batters in 92 innings as a senior at Ardmore (Ala.) High.

The D-backs then turned their attention to prep positional players, taking two high school outfielders -- Marcus Wilson and Matt Railey -- and a shortstop, Isan Diaz.

"Gives us a chance to add a left-handed bat with kind of a hit-speed combo," Montgomery said of Railey,

But after their first five picks, the D-backs went almost exclusively with college players. Fifteen of their next 16 picks played college ball.

However, that didn't stop them from reaching for prep talent with high ceilings.

With their 20th-round pick, 600th overall, the D-backs took high school right-hander J.B. Bukauskas, who was at one point considered a potential first-round selection.

However, before the Draft, Bukauskas emailed area scouts not to sign him because he intended on honoring his commitment to the University of North Carolina.

If the D-backs can convince Bukauskas, 17, to sign, they'll get a high school pitcher who already throws up to 96 mph and would become one of the top prospects in the organization overnight.

"He's a talented kid," Montgomery said. "We respect his decision to want to go on down to North Carolina, and as far as his draft selection … You never know, things can change. If he ends up going on to North Carolina, good for him, we'll support that as well. But it was nice to be able to select him, and hopefully he was happy with that."

The D-backs also selected a promising local outfielder. Gerard Hernandez, who hit .379 with nine home runs for Phoenix Pinnacle High, went to the D-backs in the 21st round -- 630th overall.

The D-backs also took a trio of catchers between picks No. 15 and 23. They took college catchers Tyler Baker (Wichita State) and John Fidenza (Georgia Gwinnett College) at 15 and 23, respectively, and Georgian prep backstop Michael Branigan with their 22nd-round pick.

As the draft pool shrank and the picks waned, the D-backs aimed to sure up their Minor League pitching. The team took nine pitchers with their final 16 selections.

Of those pitchers, six of them came out of college, including Oregon's Brandon Tessar, South Florida's Lawrence Pardo and Cal State-Chico's Nicholas Baker.

As the D-backs rounded out their selections with shortstop Zach Gahagan -- the 1,200th player taken -- the top brass felt pretty confident in their picks.

"Very happy with it," Montgomery said. "Got a lot nice little mix and balance of high school and college and right and left."

Adam Lichtenstein is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"event":["draft_central" ,"prospect" ] }
{"event":["draft_central" ,"prospect" ] }