Drive Announces Coaching Staff for 15th Anniversary Season
GREENVILLE, S.C. - In conjunction with the Boston Red Sox, the Greenville Drive have announced their coaching staff for the 2020 season, and the staff will once again feature some familiar faces for the upcoming season at Fluor Field.
Iggy Suarez will return for his third season as the Drive's manager, while pitching coach and Greenville, SC native Bob Kipper resumes the same role for the third straight season on the Drive coaching staff. Josh Prince joins the staff as hitting coach for 2020, marking his first season in Greenville, as will assistant coach John Shelby III.
Also returning to Greenville from the 2019 staff will be strength and conditioning coach Ricky De Luna and head athletic trainer Bobby Stachura.
"We are thrilled to welcome Iggy, Bob, Ricky and Robby back to the Greenville community as they work to produce more future major league stars at Fenway Park," said Drive Owner and Team President Craig Brown. "They each have extensive track records of success in the Red Sox player development system, and the many talented young players coming to Greenville in 2020 are extremely fortunate to be working with such a diverse and accomplished staff."
Under Suarez's guidance, the Drive have put nine players on the South Atlantic League All-Star Game roster over the last two seasons, in addition to having Red Sox top-prospect Triston Casas named an end-of-season All-Star in 2019. Suarez previously piloted the Drive to a second-place finish in the Southern Division second half standings and 64 total wins in 2018.
The 37-year old Suarez joined the Drive following two seasons managing the Lowell Spinners, Boston's short-season affiliate, for two seasons. He led the Spinners to 47-29 record and the New York-Penn League's Stedler Division title in his first season as manager in 2016.
Prior to his appointment as manager in Lowell, Suarez served as the Spinners hitting coach in 2015. A 24th round selection by the Red Sox from Texas State in 2003, he played seven seasons in the Boston organization, reaching AAA-Pawtucket in 2009. He also played four seasons playing in the independent Atlantic League from 2010-2013 before his coaching career.
"I couldn't be more excited to return to Greenville and Fluor Field in 2020," said Suarez. "Greenville is a truly special place with a premier facility, a tireless front office staff and a dedicated fanbase that provides us with an incredible amount of support on a nightly basis. I am looking forward to working with Bob, Nelson, and Ricky as we help our group of young, talented players achieve their goals of playing in Fenway Park, while also helping the Red Sox continue to compete for World Series championships."
Kipper's recent two-year stint as the Drive's pitching coach has been extremely successful. Under his guidance, Denyi Reyes was named the 2018 South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year, the first time a Drive pitcher has won the prestigious league award in franchise history. Last season, Thad Ward was one of the top pitchers in the South Atlantic League, earning a spot on the All-Star Game roster, before a mid-season call-up to Salem. Seven Drive pitchers amassed at least 100 strikeouts over the last two seasons.
The 54-year old previously served as the Drive's pitching coach in 2005-2006, as well as 2008-2009. Kipper was the pitching coach for the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox in 2015-2017, and he spent 2010-2014 as the Portland Sea Dogs pitching coach. He also served on the Red Sox major league staff as the bullpen coach in 2002.
A former first-round pick (8th overall) by the California Angels in 1982 out of high school, Kipper spent eight seasons in the major leagues, with seven of those coming with the Pittsburgh Pirates. His best season came in 1989 with the Pirates, where he logged a 2.93 ERA in 52 appearances out of the bullpen.
Prince will make his full-time coaching debut in the Red Sox system this season. In 2019, he spent time as a player-coach for the Sugar Land Skeeters in the Atlantic League and the Texas AirHogs of thee American Association, before signing with re-signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks in July. He played in 26 games for Triple-A Reno last season, batting .300 with eight extra-base hits in 60 at-bats to close out his 11th season in professional baseball.
Prince was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the third round (105th overall) of 2009 draft. He spent six seasons in the Brewers system, reaching the big leagues in 2013. Prince joined the Detroit Tigers in 2015 and the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2018 & 2019 with stints in independent leagues in between.
Shelby joins the coaching staff after most recently serving as the Assistant Baseball Coach at the University of Kentucky in 2018. Shelby spent six seasons in professional baseball after being selected by the Chicago White Sox in the fifth round of the 2006 MLB Draft. He reached Triple-A with the Tampa Bay organization in 2011, before later spending three years as a professional scout for the Milwaukee Brewers.
De Luna begins his third season in charge of strength and conditioning. He served in the United States Marine Corps from 2012-2017, and he served as a strength and conditioning coach for the Marine Corps during that time. He also worked at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO in 2017. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Stachura begins his second season as the head athletic trainer in Greenville. After interning in the Red Sox system in 2017, he previously spent 4 years as an athletic trainer at the University of Rhode Island. In 2013, he graduated with a B.S. in Athletic Training from Lasell College and he received his M.S. from the University of Rhode Island's Department of Kinesiology in 2015.
"Announcing our coaching staff always means that we are one step closer to baseball season, and the announcement is made even better by having Iggy, Bob, Ricky and Bobby returning to Greenville," said Drive General Manager Eric Jarinko. "With this entire staff at the helm, we are looking forward to another exciting year of baseball at Fluor Field that will eventually lead to these talented young players contributing to World Series championships in Boston in the near future."
Opening Night at Fluor Field as the Drive kick off their 15th Anniversary season is Thursday, April 16th at 7:05 PM against the Charleston RiverDogs.
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