The Washington Nationals are making the last tweaks to their draft board, with the 2018 MLB Draft just two days away. Could Ethan Hankins be the Nats’ pick?
Now just two days away from the MLB Draft, the Washington Nationals are virtually set for the big event. All week we’ve been looking at some of the Nats’ potential picks, and in this one, we look at Ethan Hankins.
Hankins is a promising right-hander out of Forsyth Central high school in Georgia. He’s the second Georgia pitcher we’ve previewed, after taking a look at Cole Wilcox earlier this week.
Some rankings, including Keith Law’s, had Hankins rated as the top prospect of this draft class early on in the process. However, he has dealt with shoulder tightness during the spring and hasn’t looked the same.
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Many have dubbed his fastball the best in the class, with MLB.com giving it an 80 grade, which is the best possible. At it’s peak, it sat in the mid 90s with fantastic movement, however this spring it’s been lurking around 90 mph.
The changeup is Hankins’ best secondary pitch, with nice fade, and an ok curveball that can be worked on in the pro ranks. He also experimented with a slider for a time, but it’s not a professional level pitch for him just yet.
Watching Hankins’ tape with the USA U-18 team, you can see a little bit of Justin Verlander in him. The electric fastball is similar to Verlander at the same age when he was drafted second overall by the Detroit Tigers in 2004.
Hankins is a few inches taller at 6″6′, but also skinnier than Verlander. This means that his fastball could be even more dominant down the road if he starts to fill out his tall frame.
Hankins does have a commitment to Vanderbilt, a college well known for churning out some top-tier draft pitchers. Just some of the pitchers taken in the last five year include Kyle Wright, Carson Fulmer, Walker Buehler and Tyler Beede.
It’s impossible to rule out Hankins going to Vanderbilt with the aim to prove to teams that he can be the pitcher he was in 2017 again in order to go number one overall. He certainly has the raw talent to do so, if he can put the injuries in the rear-view mirror.
In Bleacher Report’s May 29th mock draft, they had the Nationals taking Ethan Hankins with the 27th overall pick. Saying the following about the selection:
"The Nationals have never shied away from taking a chance on a high-upside injury risk, and it’s paid off in the past with the likes of Lucas Giolito, Erick Fedde and Jesus Luzardo. Hankins was a candidate to go No. 1 overall before dealing with a muscle issue in his throwing shoulder this spring. He has a legitimate 80-grade fastball, smooth mechanics and a projectable 6’6″ frame. He just needs to get back to his pre-injury form."
Ethan Hankins has one of the highest upsides in the entire MLB Draft, but an iffy 2018 season has led him to drop down boards. Once again, it could be the time for Mike Rizzo to find another fallen star and resurrect them with the Washington Nationals.