Johnston’s Cal Parrillo On His Baseball Journey From The Reds To Rhode Island College

For the past several years, I have made it a point to attend summer collegiate baseball league games featuring players from Rhode Island. Some of these players suit up for one of the two RI teams in the New England Collegiate Baseball League – the Newport Gulls, the Ocean State Waves – while others play for one of the other 12 teams spread out across New England. One player I had circled on my list to see last summer was Rhode Island College first baseman, Cal Parrillo, who I recently caught up with to learn more about his baseball journey. Here is an excerpt from our recent conversation via email:

Cal, good morning.  Thanks again for agreeing to do this and continued success not only this summer but as you continue your academic and athletic journey at Rhode Island College. Tell me a little bit about your Rhode Island baseball roots – Little League? AAU?

  • I played in Johnston Little League until I was 12 years old and I played AAU for the Rhode Island Reds from 8 to 13 years old.

What was that experience like?

  • I had a great experience playing AAU. We played a lot of games, which helped my development a great deal. We used to play a double-header every Saturday and Sunday, which was extremely difficult, but it definitely has helped me from a mental aspect in being able to grind through tough stretches.

If you would like to, name some of your baseball and life mentors who helped you along the way.

  • My AAU coach, Bill Clesas, was someone who helped me develop from a young age. He was extremely tough on everyone and expected the best out of us especially when it comes to fundamentals and working hard.  As I have gotten older, I realize how much that helped shape me into the player I am today. Coach Joe Vigeant was someone who has had a huge impact on my baseball career. He really helped my development as a power hitter and he taught me how to use my size and strength to hit the baseball harder and farther. He has been very supportive of me, and I love playing for him at RIC. Coach Holbrook has also had a great impact on my baseball career. He got me an opportunity to play for the Newport Gulls, and he is an excellent coach that has made my collegiate baseball experience very enjoyable. The person who has had the greatest impact on my baseball career is my Dad. He has coached me throughout my entire career and was my high school baseball coach at Ponaganset. He has always been the hardest on me and he expects me to do my best and work as hard as I can all the time. He really emphasizes hustle and being where you are supposed to be all the time. One of his favorite phrases in baseball is “never be nowhere” which I also believe is very important when it comes to defense and I make sure I am always backing people up or trailing the runner when I need to.    

Did you have a favorite ballpark to play in Rhode Island?  Or on one of your travel team tournaments?

  • I enjoyed playing at McCoy Stadium in the state championships. 

Did you grow up playing multiple sports or was baseball your sole focus athletically?

  • I grew up playing soccer and basketball as well, both recreationally and competitively.

Since you played multiple sports, how do you think it affected your overall athleticism and baseball-ability?

  • Playing other sports definitely helped my overall athleticism. My speed and strength are largely due to constantly being active as a kid.

Were you a natural baseball talent, starting in your youth playing days, or did you have to work hard to be successful on the playing field?

  • I am very fortunate to have great eyesight and good genetics when it comes to my physical attributes and overall strength and size which are things that came naturally. However, my baseball abilities have developed from constantly working at improving my game. I do a lot of self-reflecting and I continue to look at the weakest components of my game, and work to improve them.

What advice would you give a youth baseball player about working towards being the best all around baseball player they can be?

  • I would say play as many games as possible. I personally don’t believe that mechanics are the most important thing at a young age, I think as long as you play games and see pitching, you can develop mechanics as you go along from good coaching.

What is your primary position on the field defensively? 

  • Infield, and primarily first base.

Scout yourself, what type of player/hitter/fielder should fans expect when they see your name in the lineup and in the field?  

  • Power hitter, base stealing threat, high on base percentage guy? My main focus is to be a power hitter, but I will look to pick good stealing opportunities when possible and I am definitely looking to keep a high average. Also, I’m consistent defensively with a high knowledge of the game.

What year are you at Rhode Island College (RIC), what are you majoring in?

  • This is my second year at RIC, even though I technically have four more years of eligibility due to COVID and I am majoring in Secondary Education General Science with a focus in Physics.

How was your season in 2021?  Team wise and individually?

I was happy with the way the season went. I would have liked to win a championship, but we ended up getting knocked out by Southern Maine who ended up winning the conference. Individually, I was happy with my average, but I have really been focusing on improving my power numbers and defense in the offseason.

Side note, here is a season recap for Cal from the RIC Baseball website:

  • “Freshman first baseman Cal Parrillo (Greenville, R.I.) played in 33 games, starting 31 of them. He batted .331 (39-for-118) with 21 runs scored, 39 hits, seven doubles, one triple, one home run, 34 RBI and five stolen bases. Parrillo owned a .432 slugging percentage, .394 on-base percentage and a .988 fielding percentage.” Pretty impressive season!!!

How is the team looking for 2022 and when do you start up?

  • The team is looking great for this season. Our lineup is great and we have an excellent pitching staff to compliment it. We start up in Florida on March 2nd.

You played for the NECBL’s Newport Gulls last summer. What was that experience like?

  • Last year, I was asked to play on the Newport Gulls with a temporary contract until the other first basemen finished their college seasons. I was extremely fortunate to get the opportunity and I had success in those first couple of weeks that I played and was asked to stay for the rest of the summer. My plan moving forward is to continue to work hard and make the most of the next opportunity that comes my way.   

Cal, thank you for sharing your baseball journey and continued success at Rhode Island College. Special thanks to Coach Frank Holbrook who helped me set up this interview with Cal. As Cal stated in his interview, Rhode Island College starts their 2022 season on March 2nd. You can follow along with their 2022 baseball journey, check game schedules, stats, and more by going to their official baseball page as well as following them on their Instagram page listed below:

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The RIBBE is The Rhode Island Baseball Experience. It is promoting the game of baseball here in the great state of Rhode Island for the entire baseball world to see. The RIBBE is positive stories, photos, videos, and responsible social media posts. The RIBBE is an information resource for families looking for an AAU team or a summer camp or a great place to buy a first baseman’s mitt. The RIBBE is a network of coaches, tournament directors, parents, leagues, and baseball junkies whose passion of the game of baseball is unquestioned. I believe that providing expert analysis, information and directions to ballfields, and coaching advice from some of the top RI baseball minds will help promote the game of baseball here in RI to a whole new level.

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