University of Florida sophomore Jac Caglianone has taken the college baseball world by storm. After a freshman season that saw Caglianone slash .288/.339/.548 and achieve selections to the SEC All-Tournament Team and the NCAA Gainesville Regional All-Tournament Team, he was poised for another strong campaign. To say he has delivered would be an understatement. So far in the young 2023 season, Caglianone is 20/52 with 3 doubles and 10 homers, has scored 17 runs and has driven in 20. However, his talents extend beyond the dish. On the mound, he has tossed 17.1 innings, striking out 23 en route to a 2.08 ERA. This past week, Caglianone achieved SEC Co-Player of the Week honors and Perfect Game USA Player of the Week honors for batting .476, scoring 7 runs, and driving in 10 on 6 homers. On the mound, he utilized an upper 90s fastball from the left side to punch out 6 Bearcats over 4.2 innings. Oh, and in that game, he also hit 3 bombs, all of which came off the bat at 110+ mph. To be a two-way is incredibly difficult, but to do it with his abundance of success is another achievement all together. Let’s take a look at how Caglianone has performed at such a high level in his college career.
Toeing the Rubber
Caglianone’s imposing 6’5″ frame intimidates hitters the moment they step into the box. He sets himself in motion with a step towards third base with his right foot. He angles his body further to first base, his chest directly in line with the base path between first and second. The right leg kicks high, his knee reaching up to the letters on his jersey and utilizes a crossfire delivery, planting his right foot closer to first base than his left foot. As his right leg strides, he separates his arms, extending both at full length before angling them to prepare to throw. He fires his hips, bringing his upper half through the motion, all while keeping his left foot connected to the ground through release to generate power. Caglianone’s mechanics enable him to deliver darts to the plate, reading anywhere between 94 and 97 mph. His best secondary is a wipeout slider, 82-83 mph, that dives away from lefties and targets the back foot of righties. Caglianone stays consistent with command, repeating his mechanics on all pitch types and rarely missing spots. The primary fastball-slider combo is aided by a cutter, a harder horizontally-moving pitch that comes in at 84-88 mph and has generated several swings and misses, a curveball with 10-4 movement on a clock that ranges between 75-78 mph, and a changeup, of which he hasn’t thrown much, but hits the mitt at 84 mph.
At the plate, Caglianone’s figure is equally scary to pitchers. He sets his stance slightly open, his back foot near the chalk in the back of the box. He displays a subtle bat waggle at eye height. His load is equally subtle, touching his toes on the dirt before striding towards the mound. As the hips fire, his hands violently attack the baseball. He generates immense torque that explains his high exit velocities. His back foot lifts off the ground upon ball contact with the barrel and lands behind his front foot, creating a scissor mechanic that looks similar to the swing of Yordan Alvarez. His quiet mechanics allow him to adjust to different pitch types, as evidenced by his 3-homer performance against Cincinnati. He homered on a curveball, a changeup, and a fastball, all in the same game. He also hit a slider out of the park earlier in the season. Caglianone possesses an uncanny ability to punish pitches, mistake or not. His plate vision and coverage attribute to his success as well. He is 4/7 on balls put in play with 2 strikes. Furthermore, he has seen 6 balls and fouled off 4 pitches in 2 strike counts as opposed to only 8 strikeouts, 7 swinging.
A Question of Sustainability
Sure, Caglianone’s numbers as of right now are off the charts. However, it is critical to keep in mind the sample sizes being examined. He has worked just under 18 innings on the mound in the entirety of his college career, and has just over 50 at-bats in the young 2023 season. What’s important now is if he can keep it up. Some key indications that Caglianone’s success at the plate should persist are his plate discipline and coverage. His simple mechanics and ability to adjust makes it incredibly difficult for pitchers to identify holes and expose his weaknesses. On the mound, his high-octane stuff is a positive sign. However, he may be hindered by his ability to limit free bases. Although only allowing 2 hits against Cincinnati, he walked 4 and hit a batter, leading to 3 runs, all earned. His mechanics are simple and show no sign of potential collapse. To dominate lineups and achieve results similar to his start against Charleston Southern (6.2 scoreless innings, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts) Caglianone can’t give free passes. This success was evident in his most recent start against #22 Miami, where he walked only 1 and struck out 8 over 6 innings, allowing only 1 run. Eyes will continue to be glued to Jac Caglianone, and many (including myself) are excited to see what else he can do.