Hakanson was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the fifth round of the MLB Draft on Thursday night. At pick No. 155 overall, Hakanson is the first UCF baseball player to come off the board that early since pitcher Eric Skoglund was taken at pick No. 92 in 2014. Twenty players in UCF baseball history have now been drafted within the first five rounds.
Hakanson, who attended Jesuit High School in Tampa before spending three seasons as a Knight, pitched just 8.1 innings during the shortened 2020 campaign. But the eye-popping numbers he put up in that short time frame helped him get that all-important phone call Thursday.
He struck out 20 of the 28 batters he faced. He allowed one hit, one walk and two balls out of the infield. No pitcher in the country had more than his six saves.
Hakanson tops out at 96 or 97 mph with his fastball, but he became much more of a pitcher than a hard thrower in 2020. Specifically, he sharpened his slider, landing it for strikes with knee-buckling effectiveness at 82-84 mph. That two-pitch mix baffled hitters. His success garnered first-team All American recognition from Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
For his career, Hakanson struck out 98 batters in 49.2 innings. Opponents hit just .135 off of him.
The congratulations and excitement from his coaches and teammates poured in over Twitter:
JEFFY BOY! Way to go! You deserve it! https://t.co/j8z45AF2uR— Jaylyn Whitehead (@jaylynwhite39) June 12, 2020
LFG!!!!!!!! THAT'S MY THROWING PARTNER https://t.co/PSPe24dg2Q— Garrett Westberg (@BarrelBerg24) June 12, 2020
Don’t play with him !!!! Lets Gooo https://t.co/v0G0IzF73g— Pablo Ruiz (@_pabloruizz_) June 12, 2020
He is very good at throwing the baseball https://t.co/FybGFiR9eD— Nick Gottilla (@nick_gottilla) June 12, 2020
UCF head coach Greg Lovelady said last week that he expected to lose a player or two to the pros, either through the draft or post-draft free agency. With Hakanson gone, we’ll wait and see what some other prominent UCF players — Trevor Holloway, Dalton Wingo, Jack Sinclair, Colton Gordon, Gephry Pena -- choose to do. Will they come back to the Knights with at least two years of eligibility remaining or sign with an MLB team in the coming days and weeks for $20,000? I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least one player from that group dive in and start his pro career.
For comparison’s sake, pick No. 155, which was the sixth-to-last pick of this draft, was assigned a value of $340,000.
— How will the five-round #MLBDraft affect the #UCF baseball team?— Black & Gold Banneret (@UCF_Banneret) June 11, 2020
— Which senior Knights will return in 2021?
— How will new grad transfer pitcher A.J. Jones help most?
Greg Lovelady answered these questions and much more in this lengthy Q&A https://t.co/uMR90BceJZ