CARY, N.C. – Before his high school season at Forsyth Central (Cumming, Ga.) began, Ethan Hankins made a friendly wager with his pitching coach about whether he could keep his walk total under 15 this year.
By the season’s end, he’d only managed seven.
The good news, at least for teams at the Tournament of Stars this week, is that, as it stands, Hankins hasn’t made any such bets with his future teammates.
Hankins is 1 of 4 Vanderbilt commits suiting up for the Team Brave at the Tournament of Stars, joining Brookwood (Lawrenceville, Ga.) catcher William Banfield V, Knoxville Christian (Knoxville, Tenn.) pitcher Ryder Green and Loretto (Loretto, Ga.) pitcher Ryan Weathers.
In all there are seven future Commodores commits at the event; the most of any other college.
“This is a special class that we’ve got coming in,” said Hankins, who is ranked No. 5 overall in the Perfect Game 500. “There’s a lot of talent and a lot of great pitching and events like these are a great chance to build chemistry and get to know each other. That can only help us next season.”
Banfield, Hankins and Green have built even more camaraderie teaming up in the summer with Team Elite Prime.
Still, that familiarity didn’t translate into a win Monday, Team Brave fell to Team Pride 2-1.
“It’s a process and there are a lot of great players here,” Weathers said. “It’s cool to be able to kind of get a head start on next year and play with these guys now. I definitely feel like we’ve got the best pitching class in the country.”
The Commodores certainly could’ve used that pitching a few weeks ago against Oregon State.
Vanderbilt fell to the Beavers in the Super Regionals 9-2, and Banfield thinks that the talented core of players coming in can help the Commodores get to the next level.
“I’m really confident in the players that we’ve got coming in,” said Banfield, who is ranked No. 6 overall in the Perfect Game 500. “Just being here helps us so much; especially with me being a catcher it gives me a lot of knowledge on how I’m gonna call the game and getting to know how Ethan and Ryan pitch and their tendencies. This is a big opportunity for all of us.”
Be that as it may, Green knows there’s a possibility that with MLB Draft decisions looming, the dream class may not all be intact come next season, especially with four players in the Perfect Game 500’s Top 10.
“Everyone has their own decisions to make,” Green said. “If all of us come, though, it will be special. It’ll be really special.”
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