Jac Caglianone celebrates after hitting a home run against Oklahoma at the NCAA Gainesville Regional last season. The then-freshman went on to earn All-Tournament Team honors. (Courtesy of UAA/Chris Kim)

FEATURE: Sophomore Sensation Jac Caglianone

It’s rare to find a player with a more versatile skill set than Jac Caglianone. The two-way left-hander has quickly become one of the most impactful players in college baseball. The Gators’ sophomore leads all of college baseball in home runs and has also settled into the Sunday starter role for a top-ten team in the nation.

“He’s having an insane year,” said Gaby Vitale, WRUF’s Gators baseball reporter.

The Batter

The offensive half of Caglianone’s game has stacked up with the best in the nation this season.

After hitting only seven home runs as a freshman, Caglianone has burst onto the scene this year as the nation’s leader in home runs. Vitale attributes Caglianone’s recent success to his attitude. He is never satisfied and always looking to improve on his game.

Before the season, Caglianone set his home run goal at 15. With a few weeks left to play, he has already shattered that mark with 25 long balls so far this season.

Playing with Passion

Caglianone’s most memorable home run of the season came in a Sunday game against the Gators biggest SEC rival, the Georgia Bulldogs.

The Gators and the Dawgs split the first two games of the series, so this was the rubber match.

In the top of the eighth inning, Florida’s relief pitcher Brandon Neely was thrown out of the game for “unsportsmanlike conduct.” Neely recorded a crucial strikeout to get the Gators out of a jam, then made a fist pump gesture toward the Georgia dugout. This was a big moment for Neely because he had been on the mound just two nights earlier for the Gators’ epic ninth-inning collapse to the Bulldogs. However, the umpire had no sympathy for Neely and tossed him out of the game.

Immediately following Neely’s ejection, the Gators loaded up the bases on offense in the bottom of the eighth inning. Caglianone stepped up to the plate and hit his 21st home run of the season. The grand slam gave the Gators a commanding 11-4 lead.

However, more than the grand slam, what made the homer memorable is Caglione’s behavior. As he crossed home plate, he walked right into the dugout with little upper-body movement, almost as if he was a robot. He did this in response to the umpire ejecting Neely for merely just showing emotion and playing with passion.

Largely in part to his home runs, Caglianone also leads the Gators in hits, RBI and slugging percentage. Although it doesn’t lead the team, his .363 batting average is not too shabby as well.

The Pitcher

In addition to his batting prowess, Caglianone is also the Sunday starter for the No. 4 Florida Gators. Right from his season debut, he has been solid for the Gators. Vitale says Caglianone’s ability to play both ways makes him special.

In his first start in February, Caglianone went six and two-thirds innings allowing no earned runs from Charleston Southern. His fastball got all the way up to 99 miles per hour in that start as well.

Being able to throw around 100 miles per hour as a lefty makes him a threat to any batter in college baseball. In fact, he has held opponents’ batting average to under .200 in his first 11 starts.

So, Caglianone is a threat at the plate whether he pitches or bats. In his 11 starts so far this season, he has homered in five games. No other player in college baseball has accomplished that feat.

Vitale says Caglianone is always focused on the task at hand. When he’s on the mound, his only focus is pitching. He stays in the moment and doesn’t look too far ahead.

According to D1 Baseball, Caglianone is currently listed as the No. 11 prospect for the 2024 MLB draft. He is one of only two players in the top 20 who both pitch and bat.

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