Three UCF Knights baseball players were selected in the 2022 MLB Draft. All three former players — infielder Alex Freeland and pitchers Connor Staine and Hunter Patteson — were taken on Day 2, with one 2022 recruit going on Tuesday.
Here’s a quick recap:
SS Alex Freeland - Los Angeles Dodgers
Round 3 | Pick 105
Alex Freeland was the first Knight to hear his name called in the MLB Draft, going in the third round to the Dodgers. Freeland was selected as the Dodgers’ first pick of the draft, as they did not have a 1st or 2nd round pick.
A 6-2 switch-hitting shortstop, Freeland played 102 total games over two seasons at UCF, finishing his career with a .285 average (.409 OBP), 18 homers, 75 RBI, 103 hits, and a remarkable 70 walks. He returned from what some thought would be a season-ending injury last year to aid the Knights in getting within one game of the AAC Championship for the second straight season.
Some additional analysis from our old friend and Los Angeles native Brian Murphy:
Alex Freeland becomes the highest drafted #UCF Baseball player since Eric Skoglund in 2014. He is the fourth UCF player drafted by the Dodgers, the first since 2012. https://t.co/bkFC6b5aQ1— Brian Murphy (@Spokes_Murphy) July 18, 2022
Freeland’s approximate signing bonus, per MLB.com: $582,400
LHP Hunter Patteson - Kansas City Royals
Round 5 | Pick 145
In the fifth round, UCF went back-to-back, led by pitcher Hunter Patteson going to the Kansas City Royals with the 145th pick.
Patteson, a lefty, came to UCF from Vero Beach. He saw spot action in 2020 and struggled mightily in the first half of 2021, posting an ERA above 12 after his first five appearances (19 ER in 14 innings). But after fellow lefty Colton Gordon went down with an elbow injury, Patteson stepped up his game, allowing just 15 earned runs over his last 41.2 IP (with six of those coming in 3.1-IP outing against Cincinnati).
Last season, Patteson was 2-1 with a 1.82 ERA in seven starts with 41 strikeouts and just five walks given up in 29.2 IP before his elbow gave way.
Patteson’s approximate signing bonus, per MLB.com: $394,200
RHP Connor Staine — Colorado Rockies
Round 5 | Pick 146
One pick after Patteson, Connor Staine, who many thought might be UCF’s top draftee, went to the Colorado Rockies.
Staine, a New Jersey kid, was a transfer from Maryland, and made an immediate impact. Despite blister issues, he put together a 4-1 record with a paltry 1.87 ERA, and didn’t give up a single earned run in his first eight appearances.
His masterpiece was against eventual national champion Ole Miss, where he went seven frames and allowed no runs while mowing down 10 Rebels:
Again, a little context from Murph:
It's also the first time that even two #UCF players were taken within the first 5 rounds 2005 (Drew Butera and Mike Billek)— Brian Murphy (@Spokes_Murphy) July 18, 2022
Staine’s approximate signing bonus, per MLB.com: $390,500
Cameron Decker (SS) — Los Angeles Dodgers
Round 18 | Pick 555
18 (555): @Dodgers select Evansville North HS (IN) SS Cameron Decker https://t.co/gm52DKADT5 #MLBDraft— MLB Draft Tracker (@MLBDraftTracker) July 19, 2022
Decker is a 2022 recruit out of North Evansville High School and the #1-ranked third baseman in the state of Indiana, according to Perfect Game. However, his relatively low selection — outside the top 316 picks — means he may opt to come to UCF anyway, and compete to take over for Freeland at short.
I am very excited and blessed to announce that I will be continuing my academic and athletic career at the University of Central Florida. @PBRIndiana @CoachLovelady23 @tedtomjr @Coach_NickOtte @CanesMidwest16U @NORTHHUSKYBASEB pic.twitter.com/ovu1qMjDLj— Cameron Decker (@CameronDecker16) July 26, 2020
It’s now 15 straight years that UCF has had at least one player go in the MLB Draft.
Of note: OF Gephry Pena was not selected. He still has one year of eligibility remaining.