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Ethan Hankins is our No. 4 Cleveland Indians prospect. Who should be No. 5?

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Hankins possesses the highest ceiling arm in the Tribe system, but also some of the highest risk.

San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Flamethrowing right-handed pitching prospect debuts as our No. 4 Cleveland Indians prospect after being drafted in the compensatory first round o f the 2018 MLB draft at pick No. 35 overall.

With the 18-year-old Hankins, the prospect value comes almost exclusively from the tremendous amount of pre-draft hype he had. During the preseason, Keith Law ranked him as the #1 overall prospect.

Why was he expected to be taken first overall? Well just look at this:

Standing 6-feet-6, Hankins possessed the best fastball with the best action in the 2018 draft, sitting mid 90s and topping out around 98, so why did he fall to the Tribe at pick No. 35?

Well, scouts were driven into a frenzy following the above performance, attending every outing of his senior season at Forsyth Central High School, but Hankins wasn’t the same. He dealt with some shoulder inflammation his senior year and his velocity was topping out in the upper 80s and low 90s. He also appeared to be throwing a curve instead of the wicked slider he showcased in international play. That, plus a strong commitment to Vanderbilt caused his stock to drop just enough that he fell right into the Indians’ lap.

The good news is Hankins’ shoulder injury wasn’t serious, apparently it was just a mild muscle strain with no structural damage. Hankins eventually signed and was able to make two appearances in the Arizona Rookie League for the AZL Indians late in the season, tossing a total of 3.0 innings. In those 3.0 innings, he struck out six batters and didn’t walk anyone, although he did allow two runs on four hits and struck a batter.

If he can reach his potential, Hankins’ arm has the upside to hit triple digits with insane life to his fastball combined with excellent command and he could be a front of the rotation star. The risk is high as well, considering his senior season high school performance (although his velocity did return by the last few starts of his season).

I expect the Indians to be careful with Hankins. They understand how special his arm is and there’s no reason to rocket him through the system until he’s built up the arm strength to handle that type of workload. He will probably start for Low-A Mahoning Valley to begin 2019 as long as he’s healthy.


WHO SHOULD BE THE NO. 5 PROSPECT FOR 2019?

Tyler Freeman, SS (Age 19)

2018 (A-): 301 PA, .352/.405/.511, 2 HR, 14 SB, 2.7 BB%, 7.3 K%, 168 wRC+

2017 second round competitive balance pick, Freeman is one of the best pure hitters in the Tribe system. He torched the New York Penn League in 2018, although his walk-rate is concerning.

Yu Chang, SS (Age 23)

2018 (AAA): 518 PA, .256/.330/.411, 14 HR, 4 SB, 8.5 BB%, 27.8 K%, 109 wRC+

2018 (AFL): 93 PA, 337/.396/.523, 4 HR, 1 SB, 7.5 BB%, 17.2 K%

Chang’s average improved in 2018, although his power dropped from 24 home runs to 14 in his first taste of Triple-A. He stood out in the Arizona Fall League and will compete for the Indians’ utility spot this year.

Brayan Rocchio, SS (Age 17)

2018 (DSL): 111 PA, .323/.391/.434, 1 HR, 8 SB, 4.5 BB%, 12.6 K%, 140 wRC+

2018 (R): 158 PA, .343/.389/.448, 1 HR, 14 SB, 6.3 BB%, 10.8 K%, 137 wRC+

Venezuelan signed in 2017, same class as Valera, destroyed the DSL and was promoted to the AZL quickly. Many scouts said he was the best player in the AZL last year, exploding up Tribe prospect rankings as a result.

Bo Naylor, C (Age 18)

2018 (R): 139 PA, .274/.381/.402, 2 HR, 5 SB, 15.1 BB%, 20.1 K%, 126 wRC+

2018 first round pick, Naylor brings an advanced plate approach and plus hitting to the catcher position. His prospect value will stay high as long as he can stay behind the plate.

Luis Oviedo, RHP (Age 19)

2018 (A-): 9 GS, 48.0 IP, 32.5 K%, 5.3 BB%, 1.88 ERA, 2.22 FIP
2019 (A): 2 GS, 9.0 IP, 16.7 K%, 19.4 BB%, 3.00, 5.36 FIP

The Venezuelan broke out in 2018, winning back-to-back-to-back Pitcher of the Week awards in his Low-A debut for Mahoning Valley. He’s a sinkerballer with nasty swing and miss stuff in the mid 90s.

Poll

Who should be the No. 5 Indians prospect?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    Tyler Freeman
    (88 votes)
  • 27%
    Yu Chang
    (65 votes)
  • 16%
    Brayan Rocchio
    (39 votes)
  • 12%
    Bo Naylor
    (29 votes)
  • 7%
    Luis Oviedo
    (18 votes)
239 votes total Vote Now