The Shohei of the Swamp: Jac Caglianone – Florida Gators
Sophomore Jac Caglianone and the Florida Gators baseball team find themselves right in the mix of a National Championship hunt. As the regular season is winding down, the Gators sit at 38-12 and rank #7 overall in the polls. As the Road to Omaha begins, the Gators are likely to be hosting another Regional in Gainesville. One of the biggest factors in their success are the contributions of two-way star Jac Caglianone.
As I’ve written about in the past, programs like Florida find a whole roster of top-level talent without having to leave the state. A product of Plant High School in Tampa, Caglianone joins a list of impressive ballplayers produced by Plant that include Pete Alonso (Mets), Kyle Tucker (Astros) and Hall of Famer Wade Boggs. In high school, Caglianone was two-time All-State, ranked nationally as #4 for left-handed pitchers and #1 for first baseman (#38 overall) by Perfect Game.
At the Plate & On the Mound
In just his sophomore season, Caglianone has blasted 27 home runs; leading all of D1 NCAA baseball. His 27th digger made him the all-time single season leader in Gators history. He also leads D1 baseball in Total Bases with 167. In addition, “Cags” has knocked in 69 runs (#6 in the country) and ranks fifth in Slugging (.843). Caglianone is batting .354 on the season. These stats are even more impressive when you factor in the level of competition. The SEC is currently accountable for 7 of the Top 25 teams (28%) in College Baseball. The Gators offense includes highly ranked prospect Wyatt Langford (OF), who many project will go #3 overall in the MLB Draft in June. There’s also Josh Rivera who’s one of the highest ranked shortstops in college baseball. As a team the Gators rank #6 overall in Home Runs (101) and Slugging (.565).
Charting History ??#GoGators pic.twitter.com/ipfhOIpMqC
— Florida Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) May 10, 2023
Not only is Caglianone a threat at the plate, but he’s a regular on the mound. He’s started 12 games this season for the Gators, with a record of 4-2. He’s thrown 47.2 innings and struck out 54 hitters. Cags power at the plate and performance on the mound has combined for some entertaining games this season. Back in late February, he blasted three home runs and struck out six hitters in one game against the Cincinnati Bearcats.
Is Two-Way the New Way?
Caglianone’s ability to find success as a hitter and a pitcher is an extremely rare accomplishment. Which is why Shohei Ohtani has become such a phenomenon in today’s game. However, one has to wonder why? At the youth level, some of the best hitters are also the best pitchers. The overall skill and athleticism needed to do both often present themselves in a few select ballplayers. Yet, at some point these players are asked to choose a path. Perhaps Ohtani and Caglianone are a sign of things to come.
As the 2023 regular season is wrapping up, Caglianone’s sophomore status is good news for the Gators, as he will remain with the program for at least one more season before draft eligibility. He’s already listed at #11 draft prospect by D1 Baseball for 2024. Future Stars Series names him as their #1 2024 draft prospect. Whatever next season holds for Caglianone, he’s made a huge splash in 2023. While Cags may not reach Pete Incaviglia‘s seemingly unobtainable NCAA record of 100 homers, Gators fans sure won’t mind if he helps power (and pitch) their way to another National Championship in 2023 or 2024.
**Photo credit to Ryan Friedenberg of the Independent Florida Alligator (UF student newspaper)**