With the 35th pick in the draft, the Cleveland Indians have selected right-handed pitcher Ethan Hankins from Forsyth Central High School in Cumming, Georgia. In mock drafts, Hankins was unmocked by ESPN and mocked 33rd by Baseball America.
Hankins — who is kind of awkwardly big at 6-foot-6 and 200 pounds with plenty of length but not a lot of muscle — has seen his stock fall sharply in 2018, as he went into the year as a potential No. 1 overall pick but ended up further down the board due to shoulder issues. Many believe that he has the best fastball in the draft — a heater with plenty of movement that sits in the mid-90s and can already touch 98 MPH — but that pitch hasn’t looked as dominant this spring as he’s dealt with the shoulder ailment. His changeup is encouraging, but with his lack of an effective breaking pitch, his future viability as a big-league starter is still a rather large question mark, as is the case with most high-school starters.
With the way that Hankins has fallen off this year and the potential he has to raise his stock at Vanderbilt, a perennial pitcher factory, it wouldn’t be a massive shock to see him honor his commitment and enter the draft again in three years.
If Hankins ends up turning pro this summer, he’ll almost surely need four full seasons of minor-league development, as he needs time to fill out his frame, continue working on his changeup, and develop at least one good breaking pitch. With that said, his fastball gives him the potential to be a dominant starter before all is said and done.