2018 MLB Draft Profile: RHP Ethan Hankins, Forsyth Central HS (Ga.)

Ethan Hankins

Up next in our MLB Draft profile series is prep right-hander Ethan Hankins, who is one of the better prospects in the draft. But there are reasons he might be available to the Dodgers at the end of the first round.

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Previous profiles:

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Vitals
6’6, 200 pounds
Position: Pitcher
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
DOB: May 23, 2000

Location
Cumming, Ga.
Commitment: Vanderbilt

Rankings
2080 Baseball
: 4
Baseball America: 17
ESPN: 33
FanGraphs: 31
MLB.com: 19
Perfect Game: N/A
Scouting Baseball: 32

Slot recommended bonus (No. 30): $2,275,800

Note: All information of draft prospects compiled from Internet sources, scouting reports and video.

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On paper, Hankins is one of the draft’s best prospects. Heading into the spring — and as early as last fall — his name was bandied about as a potential 1-1 candidates. After a minor shoulder injury and fluctuating velocity, he has seen his draft stock drop a bit.

When he’s right, Hankins works with a fastball that sits in the 93-96 MPH range and tops out around 98. Not only does it have near-elite velocity, it has life and movement that take it to another level. His velo dropped after coming back from his sore shoulder, but he has since ramped back up to where he was last year. He also had developed a slider that showed lots of promise. Unfortunately, he has all but dropped it in favor of his curveball, which doesn’t have the same excitement behind it. It’s fine, but not a pitch that’s going to separate him from the pack. His best offspeed pitch at present is a changeup that has flashed plus.

He’ll need to improve one of his breaking pitches if he’s to reach his ceiling of a frontline starting pitcher. Seeing as the Dodgers are relatively good at that sort of thing, they could probably do wonders with Hankins and his breakers. Hell, they could even get him to throw the cut fastball that they like so bad.

Hankins oozes with projectability, as he’s a sturdy 6-foot-6 and just 200 pounds. He has a chance to add some good weight to make himself a more of a viable starting pitcher. He works from the first base side of the rubber and has just the slightest crossfire delivery. Other than that, his mechanics are clean. He has a high three-quarters release point that helps him get some good movement on the fastball. At times, he slows down his delivery just slightly on his offspeed pitches. He’ll need to do a better job in the pros because even minor-league hitters will notice that immediately.

He gets out of sync with his delivery sometimes, which leads to inconsistent command. But that isn’t uncommon with teenage pitchers. He also doesn’t incorporate his lower half as much as maybe he should. If he does, that could help with his command/control profile. Hankins also has plus-athleticism that he could use in his delivery in the future to help iron out some of the command issues.

Video

Videos courtesy of Vince Cervino and Prospect Pipeline.

There are a number of things working against the Dodgers drafting this kid. First, scouting director Billy Gasparino has never drafted a prep pitcher with his first pick — not with the Dodgers or Padres. Also, Hankins will likely come with a high price tag, which is partly why he’s fallen down some boards. The commitment to Vanderbilt is real, and it’s probably going to take more than the $2.275 million the Dodgers have allotted for their first pick to get him signed. But he is one of the best high school arms in this class and very well might be worth it.

Hankins would be a bit of a project, but even at 18 years old (tomorrow), he could move faster than some high school arms if he figures out his breaking ball and improves his command/control. Big ifs, but also not an impossible task. He’d be about the highest-ceiling prospect the Dodgers could hope to land at No. 30. Maybe Gasparino will break from his trend and surprise us a bit … I’m not counting on it, though.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.