New South Carolina Gamecocks baseball assistants Justin Parker and Chad Caillet will be 'great mesh'
baseball Edit

New Gamecock baseball assistants will be 'great mesh'

Five years ago Dallas Beaver was in a very similar situation almost every South Carolina freshman currently on the roster is facing.

A wide-eyed freshman heading to UCF, Beaver saw the coaching staff who recruited him leave for other jobs and the Golden Knights bring in a young and up-and-coming pitching coach in Justin Parker.

It’s the same Parker who, after stops at UCF and then Indiana, made his way to South Carolina this summer after Skylar Meade took the Troy head coaching gig and Beaver is excited to see what his former coach can bring to Columbia.

Justin Parker || Photo by Katie Dugan
Justin Parker || Photo by Katie Dugan

“For me, he made the transition so much easier. That comfortability you might have with a coach allows you to play freer. For a guy to entrust in you and show confidence in you, there’s nothing more important than that,” Beaver told GamecockCentral.

“That's something he does in all the players, regardless of how bad you might be playing. He’s seen you working and doing different things so he’s going to put his faith and trust in guys who put in the work. It’s amazing how easy he made the transition.”

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Beaver never threw a pitch for Parker in two years together, but was the team’s catcher, a relationship he attests might be closer than him to pitchers given how much time they spend together.

In two seasons together UCF they were part of a 40-win team and went to a NCAA Regional with Beaver getting a firsthand look at Parker’s day-to-day process.

“He was more like a feel and more of an individualized program for each guy. Some things work better for other players, some things work better for different pitchers, different arm slots, all kinds of things,” Beaver said.

“He wasn’t just, ‘OK, we’re going to do everything we can to get the spin rate up.’ It was, ‘What works best for this guy?’ each guy had their own specific plan and each guy had their own specific throwing program and everyone knew exactly what it was going to be. When you showed up to the ballpark you knew exactly what you needed to get done that day. It made it so much easier.”

Parker went from UCF to Indiana, where he spent three seasons, and turned both pitching staffs into one of the best in their respective conferences. The Hoosiers had a 3.17 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP in 2021, a season ending at 22-9.

Beaver, after a three-year career at UCF, came to South Carolina for the 2020 season only to see it cut short because of COVID-19. What his short seven-month stint in Columbia did show him was how head coach Mark Kingston operated, and thinks the mesh between Kingston and Parker will go well.

“I think it’ll be great… I don’t think he would have been hired if coach Kingston didn’t trust him. I think there’s going to be comfortability with both of them. Coach Parker is a great baseball mind when it comes to straight up the game of baseball,” Beaver said.

“He’s got to be one of the best in the game when it comes to those analytical, in-game moments of what we do in this situation. There weren’t too many better to turn to coach Parker in those situations. I think it’ll be a good mesh.”

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But Parker isn’t the only new addition to the coaching staff.

He’s joined by longtime Southern Mississippi assistant—most recently at Texas A&M—Chad Caillet, the mastermind behind the Golden Eagles’ offenses in the 2010s.

“The best word I can give you is just a fearless and relentless. That’s how we were when I was at Southern Miss. it was one dude after another, one through nine,” Bryant Bowen said.

“Being fearless on the bases when it comes to that: a lot of hit and runs, rip and runs where guys are getting steals but the guy’s up there to hit a double. It’s a never-ending cycle of these beasts. The talent level at South Carolina is bread and butter for what he wants to do.”

Chad Caillet || Photo by Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Chad Caillet || Photo by Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Bowen offers a unique perspective into how Caillet operates; he was a career .320 hitter in three seasons under Caillet before transferring to South Carolina after the 2019 season.

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“He’s very authentic and straightforward. He’s from South Louisiana and with those people what you see is what you get. It is. With it, there’s a good human in it. The way he recruits you is the way he’s going to coach you,” Bowen said.

“What you see is what you get. It sold me completely, and I would never understand why someone wouldn’t want to go play for him in that regard. What you get on the field with him, he’s the same guy. He’ll tell you how it is. He doesn’t like. He finds ways to get you going.”

Caillet is tasked with reviving a South Carolina offense ranking near the bottom in most categories.

His offenses at Southern Miss and Texas A&M over the last 14 years have a slash line of .290/.386/.435 with a 1.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and Bowen is eager to see what his offense looks like with South Carolina talent.

“Scary. And relentless, especially if they can buy into being fearless,” he said. “Coach Kingston is very offensive minded. For how much he does on the defensive side of the baseball, he wants doubles and home runs. He wants runs scored. All coach Caillet is going to do is help. He’s going to help, help, help that aspect of what he wants that program to be. I would be shocked if it didn’t turn out to be what I’m explaining based off their two minds and their two personalities in how they communicate with their players.”

Also see: Evaluating the Gamecocks' offensive performance

Bowen, like Beaver, was in Columbia for less than a year because of a shortened 2020 season but spent enough time around both Caillet and Kingston to see how both operates and thinks it’s going to be a fantastic match.

“Coach Kingston’s baseball IQ is off the charts, as we know. He’s very analytic and it’s very modernized baseball, which is outstanding. Coach Caillet is nitty-gritty, guerilla baseball where it’s let’s go hit the ball and display our talents and beat somebody. I think that’s a great mesh,” Bowen said.

“I tell people all the time I’d run through a brick wall for (Caillet). He put me on stages I never thought I’d be as a baseball player. I know he’s going to do that for those guys, especially with how talented those players are at South Carolina. Anybody he can put a fire under, it will be so substantial for them. It’s good for coach Kingston too. He can be the head coach and feel very good behind that.”

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