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Hankins' breaking ball impresses at Tournament of Stars

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

CARY, N.C. -- Ethan Hankins wanted to show he could throw a solid breaking ball during his Tournament of Stars start on Wednesday. It's safe to say he fulfilled his mission.

The 6-foot-6 right-hander from Forsyth Central High School in Cumming, Ga., tossed three hitless innings in the first game of action for team Brave. Hankins struck out four and walked none. The lone baserunner came as a result of his own error on a comebacker to the mound. When he wasn't missing bats, he was creating a lot of weak contact.

CARY, N.C. -- Ethan Hankins wanted to show he could throw a solid breaking ball during his Tournament of Stars start on Wednesday. It's safe to say he fulfilled his mission.

The 6-foot-6 right-hander from Forsyth Central High School in Cumming, Ga., tossed three hitless innings in the first game of action for team Brave. Hankins struck out four and walked none. The lone baserunner came as a result of his own error on a comebacker to the mound. When he wasn't missing bats, he was creating a lot of weak contact.

Tweet from @MLBPipeline: ��Ethan Hankins��@VandyBaseball commit at #TOS17 today:3 IP0 H0 R0 BB4 K1 of @JonathanMayo's players to watch:https://t.co/QcPkaTy9pN pic.twitter.com/mEWs7c6Dx0

And he was able to do some of it with a breaking ball that did not have strong advanced reviews. It's far from a finished product, but he did turn over a few good ones, and scouts on hand feel it has the chance to develop. It can get caught between a curve and a slider at times, with the latter perhaps being a better option for him in the future. One scout saw a little Gerrit Cole when watching him throw his secondary stuff.

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There were no questions about his fastball and his command of it. Hankins was consistently hitting 95 mph throughout his outing, keeping his heater in the 92-95 mph range. Using a simple, clean and repeatable delivery, he threw a lot of strikes with his whole arsenal. If his breaking ball continues to improve, expect to hear his name a lot in early first round Draft conversations.

Hankins was clearly the top pitcher in Day 2 action, though Pride starter Austin Becker (Big Walnut HS, Sunbury, Ohio) did toss four scoreless on three hits and three walks while striking out four in the afternoon game. Using a 90-92 mph fastball and a mid-70s curveball, Becker kept the Free lineup -- led by top 2018 prospect Brice Turang (Santiago HS, Corona, Calif.), 2019 prospect Bobby Witt Jr. (Colleyville Heritage HS, Tex.) and 2018 first-round hopeful Jarred Kelenic (Waukesha HS, Wisc.) -- at bay. He also showed a decent changeup, though he threw it a few too many times in succession in one inning.

There was some serious arm strength on display, particularly in that second game of the day, though work remains on secondary pitches for many who threw. Right-hander Slade Cecconi (Trinity Prep, Oviedo Fla.) topped out at around 96 mph and was throwing 94-95 mph consistently early in his outing. He didn't keep that up in his second and third innings, and his slow curve is clearly a work in progress, and he gave up two runs on five hits. Linares Torres, a right-hander from Beacon High School in New York, was also up to 94-95 mph, but struggled to land his breaking ball for strikes, though he did strike out Christian Robinson (Viera HS, Melbourne, Fla.) to end the sixth. Mason Denaburg (Merritt Island HS, Fla.) struck out two and was touching 94-95 mph in the ninth.

There were some good offensive tools on display as well. Outfielder Parker Meadows (Grayson HS, Ga.), the brother of Pirates prospect Austin Meadows, had a couple of hits and a stolen base leading off for the Brave. At 6-foot-5 and just shy of 190 pounds, it's all about projection in terms of future strength, but the speed is there, he plays good outfield defense and showed more with the bat on Wednesday than he had previously.

Scouts also liked what they saw from catcher Austin Wells (Bishop Gorman HS, Henderson, Nev.). Wells doubled and drew two walks at the plate, starting the game as the DH and moving behind the plate later in the game, throwing out a base-runner to show off his strong catch and throw skills. Fellow catcher Anthony McNair-Seigler (Cartersville HS, Cartersville, Ga.) keeps hitting for Pride. He had his second double in two days and drove in a pair. He's now 3-for-6 for the tournament.

Trackman leaders

After two games, the Trackman leaderboard (with some added categories) is as follows:

Maximum fastball velocity: John Ginn, RHP, Brandon (Miss.) HS, 97.0 mph; Slade Cecconi, 96.7 mph; Kumar Rocker, RHP, North Oconee HS (Watkinsville, Ga.), 95.8 mph
Average fastball velocity: Ginn, 94.6 mph; Mason Denaburg, 94.2 mph; Ethan Hankins, 93.5 mph
Maximum fastball spin rate: Cecconi, 2713 rpm; Joseph Menefee, LHP, George Ranch HS (Richmond, Tex.), 2582 rpm; Hankins, 2565 rpm
Maximum breaking ball spin rate: Carter Stewart, RHP, Eau Gallie HS (Melbourne, Fla.), 3474 rpm; Davis Sharpe, RHP, Mill Creek HS (Dacula, Ga.); 2866 rpm; Landon Marceaux, RHP, Destrehan (Ga.) HS, 2863 rpm
Top exit speeds: Elijah Cabell, OF (Winter Park, Fla.), 108.2 mph; Jeremiah Jackson, INF, St. Lukes Episcopal HS (Mobile, Ala.), 107.3 mph; Alek Thomas, OF, Chicago Mount Carmel HS, 106.2 mph

Pitching preview

The following pitchers are tentatively slated to pitch on Thursday:

Game 5, 10 a.m.

Free
Christian Scott, RHP, Calvary Christian Academy (Parkland, Fla.)
Jack Perkins, RHP, Kokomo (Ind.) HS
Kris Armstrong, RHP, The Benjamin School (Jupiter, Fla.)

Brave
Cole Wilcox, RHP, Heritage HS (Chickamauga, Ga.)
Carter Raffield, RHP, Bleckley County HS (Cochran, Ga.)
Ryder Green, RHP, Knoxville (Tenn.) Christian HS

Game 6, 1:30 p.m.

United
Cole Winn, RHP, Silver Creek HS (Longmont, Colo.)
Mike Vasil, RHP, Boston College HS (Wellesley, Mass.)
Connor Scott, LHP, H.B. Plant HS (Tampa, Fla.)

Pride
Simeon Woods-Richardson, RHP, IH Kempner HS (Houston, Tex.)
Jonathan Childress, LHP, Forney (Tex.) HS
TBD

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.