New Gamecock Baseball Wizards on Rookies, Coaching Style

Chad Caillet, while working for Miss South in 201

Chad Caillet, while working for Miss South in 201

File photo

Chad Caillet and Justin Parker jumped straight to South Carolina.

Caillet, the Gamecocks’ new batting coach and recruiting coordinator, and Parker, the new pitching coach, began their first few weeks on the recruiting trail, jumping on FaceTime calls with current players, meeting everyone in the building and finding new places to live.

That’s a lot to take in all at once, especially at the end of the summer baseball cycle.

“It’s been a crazy transition just because of the time frame,” Caillet said.

Caillet spent his early days in South Carolina focusing on recruiting. In his 24th year of coaching, Caillet joined head coach Mark Kingston’s staff after a two-year stint at Texas A&M. He produced several top 25 recruiting classes during his 12-year stint at Southern Miss of Conference USA and left a No. 11 class at Texas A&M before heading to Columbia. South Carolina’s Class of 2021 is currently ranked No. 16 nationally.

It’s easy for Caillet to gauge a prospect’s physical traits and gauge their baseball IQ. He wants to dive deep into a rookie’s mental makeup – a more difficult task, he says. Knowing the gauntlet of SEC baseball, Caillet tells families he gets as much out of a prospect’s failure as he does from success.

“I want to see how they handle those failures because you’re going to fail at that level,” Caillet said. “There is no doubt these crossroads are coming. The best mental player has the ability to pass.

“A lot of times I think we’re like rookie psychologists,” Parker agreed.

Parker has had quick success in his previous two stops at Indiana and UCF, leading the Hoosiers’ pitching staff to a 3.17 ERA in 2021, his third season at Bloomington. Parker has produced 20 MLB draft pitchers, including nine in the first 10 rounds.

Parker is eager to grow the Gamecocks’ staff and said he wants to produce 15 to 18 elite pitchers, expanding beyond a few quality starters and a good closer. He knows the old adage of hitting opposing coaches — “Let’s go to the bullpen” — and wants to challenge it.

“I want the bullpen to be a nightmare when you get there,” Parker said.

Caillet’s attacking philosophy is all about balance. He said his previous experience with the SEC taught him how to prepare for some of the best pitches in the country. So he seeks the perfect mix of left-handed and right-handed bats, a multi-dimensional offense capable of more than just home runs. and the ability to exert pressure.

Caillet assessed what South Carolina brings with its 2021 recruiting class and took that knowledge with him as he crafts the balance he seeks in Colombia.

“(The philosophy) is just to have this great balance of options on your roster, so that we can go ahead with any opponent who obviously can be a bit difficult,” Caillet said.

Both Caillet and Parker said the first challenge was just learning names and connecting with current players. Caillet met some players virtually, and others came into the building to say hello. Challenges are fun, Caillet said, but building trust is always a process.

The Gamecocks have moved in for the fall semester and skills instruction will begin shortly after the first day of school on Friday. The first practices can’t come soon enough for Parker.

“I think we’re all looking forward to settling in, getting back on the court,” Parker said. “That’s who we are. That’s what we like to do.

Augusta Stone covers women’s basketball, football and other college sports from the South Carolina Gamecocks for The State. Winner of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Green Eyeshade Award, Stone’s work has been featured in Sports Illustrated, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and The Charlotte Observer. Stone earned a journalism degree from the University of Georgia.