1. What’s your favorite pitch and why? “My favorite pitch is my fastball. There’s no better feeling than blowing a fastball by someone.” Hakanson’s heater tops out at 97 mph, so it’s clear why opposing hitters would be tardy at the plate. He struck out 20 of the 28 batters he faced in the shortened 2020 season.
2. At what point in your career did you know you had a good chance of being drafted? “My sophomore year in college is when a lot of stuff clicked for me and I realized I could continue to get better and get drafted.” Hakanson threw 26.2 innings in his sophomore campaign and finished with a 3.38 ERA and 6 saves.
3. What’s your favorite moment of your career so far? “Probably sweeping Auburn at home. It was bittersweet looking back on it now because I think it showed everyone how good our team at UCF could’ve been this year.” The former Knight recorded his 2nd and 3rd saves of the season in the first 2 games of that 3-game series.
4. Which MLB player are you most excited to possibly meet? “That’s a hard one. I’d say Scherzer because the guy’s a beast and I like his competitiveness.” Hakanson and Max Scherzer have some similarities in that they both chose the college route and they both have elite fastballs.
5. How did it feel getting drafted by the team you grew up close by? “It’s surreal. Something you dream of growing up as a kid and now I got a shot at being there one day.” Jeffrey Hakanson attended Jesuit high school in Tampa, Florida and was raised a Rays fan. I’m very excited to see him grow through the Tampa Bay farm system.