Ethan Hankins, RHP, Forsyth Central HS, Cumming, GA
Arguably the best arm at East Coast Pro, Hankins had a performance that you simply do not forget. The kind of performance that is seared into memory for life, or as one scout put, the kind of a performance of a “Top-10 pick shit.” He was so overpowering, his three innings were quick, striking out his first six batters with a mix of a 70 fastball (97-94), a breaking ball with above-average movement at 78-79, and a promising changeup at 86-88, all from a three-quarters slot. Hankins showed command, a feel for pitching and athleticism in a six-foot-six, 210 frame.
One scout likened his style to the originator of disruption, Luis Tiant. Although he did not show his numbers, like Tiant, Hankins’s style was more 2017 Marcus Stroman, varying his delivery and rhythm with his lead leg. From a modified ready-set delivery, Hankins would either go into his delivery like normal, quick pitch, step back and pause, not bother lifting his front leg opting for all arm, lift and pause…so many different variations. The confidence, dominance, the athleticism…was bad ass. The only drawback from what he showed is the potential for a serious arm injury. Hankins was, at multiple points throughout his outing, all arm.
Even with risk for injury, Hankins is a top arm, a top high school pitcher, and a top talent for the 2018 draft due to his stuff, size, strike-throwing ability and mound presence. Should he continue to perform, hard to say he will be going to his committed school, Vanderbilt.
Kumar Rocker, RHP, North Oconee HS, Watkinsville, GA
Kumar. Rocker. Kumar. Rocker. Kumar. Rocker.
Maybe you recognize the name because his father, Tracy (not John) played defensive tackle at Auburn University and was later drafted by the Washington Redskins. Or maybe because you read John “Uncle Jack” Eshleman’s Tournament of Stars notes on him (read it if you have not). Or maybe not. Either way, Kumar Rocker is a name you cannot forget moving forward.
From a low-three-quarters slot, Rocker is the owner of a 70 fastball (though his velo tapered down to 91 later in his outing), an inconsistent breaking ball that showed above-average bite at 81-84 mph with 10-5 break, and a firm split-finger at 86-88 that was more a BP fastball than the tumble Uncle Jack saw at Tournament of Stars. Although Rocker’s fastball is hittable, consistent with what I saw in my first viewing of him at PG National, the velo is effortless…EZ…easy as cutting butter with a sizzling knife. A high-schooler, does he also have more in the tank? I say, yes. As noted in Jack’s piece, the delivery will get a mechanical tune-up. Specifically, his lower-half usage is not optimal. By separating from his glove late, he relies more on his upper body. With mechanical improvements, natural maturation and a MLB strength and conditioning program, more velo is likely. The tune-up will also help in maintaining his command and stuff, as his endurance will be better.
Kumar. Rocker. Kumar. Rocker. Kumar. Rocker.
Xavier Edwards, S/R, MIF, North Broward Prep, Wellington, FL
Edwards holds down the infield with a live body, agility, and flair despite being the smallest guy in the tournament. He’s on the opposite side of the height and weight spectrum than the first two guys we’ve talked about, standing at 5-foot-8 and 154 pounds. Edwards demonstrates the ability to slot into pro ball immediately. The glove work is exceptional, smooth, controlled, and flashy. He has a quick first step, and covers ground as best as anyone. He can get some real mustard on his throws, showing enough for second and slight chance for the deep, deep six. The agility, athleticism and quick exchange should compensate for it some.
After reading that, you probably are not surprised that he is the second* fastest at the showcase, running a 6.54 60-yard-dash. The fastest was outfielder Parker Meadows, who ran a 6.53; nitpicking here, I know. But to further his case, he ran 4.01 and 4.04 from the left side, which is 70 speed. Edwards is also a competent hitter, with good bat-to-ball skills, and the ability to direct the ball. The last batter in Hankins’s video and the first batter in Rockers’ video is Edwards, and he fared well against the better arms in the showcase. The bat profiles for singles and hustled doubles and triples, but there is a certain sound to his contact, which could lead to some pull power, too.
Edwards is an athlete who has an instinct for the game. He should hit for average and develop an above-average ability to steal bases. Edwards demonstrated, despite his size and power, that he is one of the best in the field. With a performance like this, look to see Edwards go in the top five rounds, unless he adheres his commitment to Vandy.
Nander De Sedas, S/R, INF, MontVerde Academy, MontVerde, FL
Finally, a non-Vandy commit! De Sedas is committed to Florida State. He has the athleticism of an infielder with good actions and fielding ability. The body is controlled, smooth, and fluid. He showed a good game clock and confidence at any of the infield positions with average range. The arm plays well at all positions, too.
As for the offensive tools, there is average raw power potential but the bat is not presently designed for game power. Though he showed good balance, a clean swing, and an ability to inside-out balls, the bat is not much, showing only fringe bat-speed. Additionally, he swung over multiple breakers
Bryce Reagan, S/R, INF, Souhegan HS, Amherst, NH
As a Northeast guy, I simply could not go without highlighting a Northeaster. My guy of choice, the best shortstop on this Northeast-based team, Bryce Reagan. He looks like a shortstop. The actions in the infield are smooth, controlled, and athletic. With the body, the build, the feel, and the instincts, I have minimal qualms about his ability to stick. What I do have qualms about are his bat.
Reagan will not hit for much power, with mild leverage in his swing plane from the left side. A switch-hitter, most of his plate-appearances were from the left-side. He showed a good approach and plate discipline. As for the right-handed swing, in the few looks at his in-game, it looked…rough, which is fine. He is young, a New Englander, learning to maintain and prepare for two swings, but his hit tool will determine his ability to make it as a pro. I like the kid, so I will give him other looks to convince me otherwise. Reagan enjoys the game and does not mind getting dirty.
Mason Denaburg, RHP, Merritt Island HS, Merritt Island, FL
While plenty of evaluators went to Merritt Island last season to see Brady McConnell, who honored his commitment to Florida, they also went to see Denaburg. As a junior last season Denaburg stood out, cementing himself as one of the top prep players in Florida for 2018.
Coming into ECP at 6-foot-3, 193 pounds, Denaburg certainly looks the part, and has an ideal pitcher’s frame. While muscular, he still is projectable, with broad shoulders to add weight to. Pitching from a full windup, Denaburg has a small but compact arm action with above-average arm speed, and a three-quarters slot. His fastball is his best offering, coming in at 94-95 (t96), with quality sink. The fastball is heavy and it can generate swings and misses, as well as weak contact. During his three innings of work, he relied primarily on his fastball, as he could throw it to both sides of the plate. His curveball, which comes in from 77-80, is a power offering, but can get slurvy and inconsistent. The best ones showed sharpness, with hard depth and 10/4 shape. Also a hitter, Denaburg has more upside as an arm, and will be a high follow heading into next year.
JP Gates, LHP, Nature Coast Tech, Brooksville, FL
Nature Coast Tech certainly isn’t a powerhouse—they only have one player to have played in the minor leagues—but JP Gates will bring scouts to Brooksville this season. While smaller now, he came in at 6-foot, 194 pounds, and he is projectable, with a lean body. Pitching from a full windup, Gates does have some jerkiness to his delivery, but he repeats it, and it adds some deception. He has a deep arm action with above-average arm speed, and a high-three-quarters slot. His fastball came in at 90-91 (t92), and featured average run, and he used it well against left-handed hitters, getting in on their hands thanks to its movement. His curve, which came in from 79-81, stood out during the event. While inconsistent at first, it showed 1/7 shape with good, hard depth and he located it at the bottom of the zone. He also showed more feel for a change then one would expect, coming in from 82-84 with arm speed and late fade. Like Denaburg, Gates also hit, but only played 1B and has more upside on the mound.
Ryan Weathers, LHP, Loretto HS, Loretto, TN
One thing I forgot to mention to you, the players in this draft class will be the first from the year 2000. Just to make you feel older, Weathers is the son of former big league reliever David Weathers, who finished up his career in 2009.
Like his father, Weathers is larger, coming in at 6-foot, 235 pounds, but the weight didn’t seem to be a deterrent to his pitching ability at this point. Pitching from a full windup, Weathers has a compact, easy arm action with above-average arm speed and a three-quarters slot. His fastball was 91-93 (t94) with late life that frustrated lefties and righties alike. While his father’s out pitch was a slider, Ryan’s is a curve, which comes in from 75-77, with quality depth that he can drop in for strikes or use as a chase pitch. It was his out-pitch in this outing, and he could spin it when necessary, showing quality feel for the offering. His change, which was 80-83, lacked arm speed and was more of a show-me offering. While there are concerns with Weathers, his pitching ability stands out and is a name to keep an eye on in Tennessee.
Ryder Green, OF, Karns HS, Knoxville, TN
While the showcase stood out more for the quality of arms, Green was one of the few bats that made waves during the event. A strongly built 6-foot, 208 pounds, Green has present physicality and good raw strength, both of which were showed in his loud homer on Day 1.
— Steve Givarz (@SteveGivarz) August 8, 2017
In the field, Green has above-average arm strength, making quality throws with velocity and accuracy. While he only showed average run times down the line, he did run a 6.60 60-yd dash, showcasing a potential power/speed combination not usually seen from someone his size. While he played all three outfield positions during the week, Green profiles in both center and right.
Cole Ayers, RHP, West Clermont HS, Loveland, OH
Ayers, who attributes his father, former minor-leaguer Mike Ayers, with the development of his signature pitch, stymied hitters at the event.
That pitch is a hard knuckle-curve, which came in from 82-85 with 11/5 power break and depth. The pitch looks to be a plus offering, one that he can locate for strikes, and can bury for swings and misses. His fastball also showed good life, coming in at 90-91 (t92) with late sink that generated weak contact. While not the biggest pitcher, Ayers came in at 6-foot, 175 pounds, Ayers will go as far as that curveball goes, which could be very high come next year.