Not every team that resides in Gainesville is terrible, and if Gator fans are looking for a boost in morale, Florida baseball will take the field next month for the 2024 season. After falling one game short of winning the College World Series in 2023, hopes are high for the Gators to make another run.
Front and center for the Gators in 2024 is a superstar that can become a legend with a strong campaign.
Florida Baseball: Jactani
Jac Caglianone exploded on the college baseball scene in 2023. After a pedestrian freshman campaign, Caglianone broke the single season record for home runs at Florida with 33, and had an OPS of 1.126.
But the charm of Caglianone is that he was the entrenched Sunday starter and finished the year 7-4 with a 4.34 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 74 innings pitched.
He was a Golden Spikes Award finalist in 2023, given to the best overall player in college baseball.
It is with that backdrop that FanDuel just released their preseason odds for the 2024 Golden Spikes Award winner and Caglianone leads the way with +500 odds.
There is reason to believe that Caglianone can come out on top this season. His pitching last season was erratic at times, but the offseason chatter is that he has added even more velocity to his fastball and is capable of hitting 100. Especially in college baseball, if he can locate a 100 MPH fastball with any consistency he will be just fine as a pitcher this season.
Honestly, the hitting side of things that might be hard to replicate. Last season Caglianone had stretches where he was a free swinger and had a chase rate of 44%, AKA he swung at 44% of pitches that would have been a ball.
And as we see all the time in baseball, once data comes out on a hitter, teams are going to find a way to attack it.
If he can clean up his chase rate and take a few more walks (he only had 17 in 2023), then Caglianone might be a runaway winner for the Golden Spikes in 2024.