Former Forsyth Central pitcher Ethan Hankins has signed with the Cleveland Indians, becoming the first Forsyth County player to go pro out of high school since North Forsyth pitcher Dakota Chalmers signed with the Oakland Athletics in 2015. Jim Callis of MLB.com reported that Hankins received a $2,246,022 signing bonus.
Hankins, a hard-throwing 6-foot-6 righthander, was one of the most dominant pitchers in county history during his career at Central. In 2017, his junior season, he had a 0.90 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings, with just seven walks on the year. During the summer, he impressed evaluators at almost every major showcase and made the USA Baseball 18U National Team, where he was one of the top arms on a squad that won the WBSC World Cup.
Hankins was considered one of the top high school arms in the country -- and a potential No. 1 overall draft pick -- heading into the spring season, but he injured his shoulder during non-region play and was kept off the mound for a month. Hankins was effective when he returned, but he didn't show the velocity or the sparkling control that made him a top prospect in 2017, throwing 20 2/3 innings and recording a 2.37 ERA with 37 strikeouts and 10 walks. Still, he drew strong interest from pro teams and was picked 35th overall, becoming the second-highest draft pick in county history.
The Indians gave Hankins a bonus over slot value for the 35th pick, which was slotted at $2,016,400. Hankins had signed to play in college at Vanderbilt, but a week ago, he signed with Chipola College, a junior college in Florida. Junior college players are draft-eligible after one year, whereas Hankins would have had to spend three years at Vanderbilt.