Ethan Hankins | RHP
The soon-to-be 18-year-old Hankins attends Forsyth Central High School in the Atlanta suburbs. He shot up draft boards last summer, when he struck out 27 in two starts and 12 innings for Team USA at the 18-and-under World Cup. Hankins is committed to Vanderbilt, historically a tough commitment to break, and it’s important to note he missed time with a shoulder injury in mid-February. Jim Callis reports it was a muscular issue, not a structural problem with his labrum or rotator cuff. Hankins was sidelined a month and has since returned to the mound.
Prior to the injury Hankins was in the discussion for the No. 1 prospect in the 2018 draft class. His fastball sat 93-96 mph before the injury and touched 98 mph with explosive late life, and his 6-foot-6 and 200 lb. frame suggests he might be able to add even more velocity as he matures. Hankins’ go-to secondary pitch is a hammer curveball that is a swing-and-miss offering at its best. He’s also toyed with a slider and changeup, neither of which is a reliable offering yet. Since the injury though, Hankins has sat mostly 89-92 mph and his curveball hasn’t been quite as sharp. His command, which previously was very good, hasn’t been the same either. Hankins has a smooth delivery and he’s adept at messing with the hitter’s timing with quick pitches and delayed leg kicks, things like that.
In their most recent rankings Baseball America ranks Hankins as the 16th best prospect in the draft class while MLB.com has him 19th. Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranks him 33rd. All three publications ranked Hankins as a top five draft prospect before the shoulder injury. The Yankees hold the 23rd pick. The shoulder injury is a bummer. No doubt about it. Hankins is an elite talent though, the kind of talent the Yankees rarely get a shot at in the draft, and if he falls to them, they could roll the dice. It’ll take some draft pool shenanigans to make it work — Hankins might still be looking for top five money — but the Yankees could make it work. I suspect teams with extra picks (Rays, Royals, Indians, Cubs) are hoping they can nab Hankins with a pick after the first round, then pay him big.