11. Bryse Wilson, RHP
Age: 19 | Throws: R
2.50 ERA | 3.20 FIP | 26 G, 26 GS | 137.0 IP | 2.43 BB/9 | 9.13 K/9
Current Assignment: Class A Rome
Acquired: Drafted, 4th Round – 2016
Midseason 2017 OFR Ranking: 13
Superlatives: Atlanta Braves Rome Braves Pitcher of the Year, South Atlantic League All-Star, Baseball America’s #11 Prospect in South Atlantic League
History: No Braves prospect has improved their status more in 2017 than Wilson. The 4th-rounder had great stats in the GCL in 2016, but reports were that he had bad mechanics, only two good pitches, and was almost certainly a future reliever.
He was skipped past Danville to Rome to start the 2018 season, and in fact was the Opening Day starter. His 5-inning, 1-hit performance was a sneak peak at what Wilson would do consistently all season. Wilson was strong in the first half, and even better in the second. He pitched the only 9-inning complete game in the entire organization (including the majors). He was essentially equally effective against lefties or righties. His pitch efficiency allows him to generally go deep into games despite the strict pitching counts that Braves wisely impose on their teenage pitching prospects, and he was the only teenager in the top 10 in innings pitched in the SAL. In short, it’s safe to say at this point that those initial reports were wrong.
Pitching: Wilson’s game is defined by the advanced command of all of his pitches. His pure stuff is behind fellow Rome rotation-mates Joey Wentz and Ian Anderson, but Wilson’s low-90s fastball has natural sink and good movement and location. It will regularly find the strikezone enough that hitters have to try to put it in play, but rarely will square it up. Wilson’s breaking pitch is a curveball with decent late break, but Wilson will occasionally lose his arm angle and it will start behaving like a slider. Wilson’s change-up was considered a potential plus pitch when drafted, but it has taken a slight step backwards as he concentrated on his breaking ball this season; it still has good movement and location, but lost some of the separation it had with his fastball. Wilson is athletic and has a strong mound presence with very good poise.
What’s Next: Wilson should advance to high-A Florida for 2017, though there’s a strong possibility he will get promoted on up to AA Mississippi, following the example of Kolby Allard and Mike Soroka before him. A further refinement of his mechanics to get a little more pep on his fastball or get more consistency for his breaking ball should vault him into the top 10 of Braves prospects by this time next year.
10. Touki Toussaint, RHP
Age: 21 | Throws: R
4.53 ERA | 3.47 FIP | 26 G, 26 GS | 145 IP | 3.97 BB/9 | 10.37 K/9
Current Assignment: Class A+ Florida
Acquired: Trade w/Arizona Diamondbacks – 2015
Midseason 2017 OFR Ranking: 10
Superlatives: OFR Florida Fire Frogs Pitcher of the Year, Atlanta Braves Florida Fire Frogs Pitcher of the Year
History: A former first round pick by the Diamondbacks in 2014, Toussaint was traded to the Braves in a salary dump move in 2015 where the Braves agreed to take Toussaint and the $9.5 million contact of Bronson Arroyo, who was to miss the season with injury. While Toussaint has shown flashes of brilliance, he has to date been a prospect whose projection has been far ahead of his performance. This continued in 2017; while with the high-A Florida Fire Frogs, Toussaint had a massive disconnect between his peripheral stats, which showed strong improvement over previous season in strikeouts, walks, and ground ball rate, and his results which had his ERA at 5.04. The Braves believed the peripherals and promoted Toussaint to AA Mississippi in late July. The move proved to be a good one as Toussaint finished out his season with a 3.18 ERA/3.69 FIP in 7 starts, with a .207/.320/.317 batting line against him, though ironically his performance was better than his peripheral stats.
After the season, Toussaint was tabbed to participate in the Arizona Fall League, where he served as a reliever for the first time in his pro career. He had mixed success in his 6 appearances, striking out 8 batters in 4 innings in his first two scoreless appearances, but then getting blown up three of his final four appearances to give him a 13.50 ERA in the desert.
Pitching: When if comes to pure stuff, no pitcher in the Braves farm system takes a back seat to Toussaint. Toussaint brings to the table a fastball that sits in the mid-90s but can touch 97. What makes Toussaint worth the price of admission though is his impressive 12-6 curveball, and this year saw more consistency with his change-up. Toussaint has also added a sinker to his repertoire, and he worked this pitch extensively while in high-A which may contribute to his odd peripheral/performance split. Toussaint also spent the entire month of June pitching from the stretch after Florida pitching coach Dennis Llewellyn noticed mechanical issues out of the stretch that contributed to poor results with runners on base. Overall, it was an occasionally frustrating but productive season for Toussaint. Toussiant’s control will occasionally desert him and he can give up walks in bunches, but those times are becoming shorter and less frequent.
What’s Next: Toussaint is most likely ticketed for a return engagement in the AA Mississippi starting rotation to start the 2018 season and he will continue to refine his craft. If all goes well, a AAA assignment could come as early as mid-season, as well as a possible September cup of coffee in Atlanta.