GREENVILLE, S.C. - In conjunction with the Boston Red Sox, the Greenville Drive announced their coaching staff for the upcoming 2021 season. A mix of familiar and fresh faces will guide the Drive as baseball and its family friendly entertainment returns to Fluor Field in 2021 following a 20-month absence.
GREENVILLE, S.C. - In conjunction with the Boston Red Sox, the Greenville Drive announced their coaching staff for the upcoming 2021 season. A mix of familiar and fresh faces will guide the Drive as baseball and its family friendly entertainment returns to Fluor Field in 2021 following a 20-month absence. The upcoming season will feature a reboot of the Drive’s 15th Anniversary season and give fans a chance to see the maturation of the Drive’s 2019 team, as Greenville moves to the Class A Advanced level.
Manager Iggy Suarez will return for his third season at the helm of the Drive, while pitching coach and Greenville, SC native Bob Kipper resumes his role on the Drive coaching staff for the third straight season, and Nate Spears returns to Greenville for his first season as the team’s hitting coach. John Shelby III will officially begin his first stint in Greenville in 2021, after having been appointed to that role in the 2020 season that was eventually cancelled.
Joining the 2021 staff are athletic trainer Nick Kuchwara and strength and conditioning coach Joe Hudson, both marking their first season in Greenville.
"We can’t wait for baseball to return to Fluor Field in 2021,” said Drive Owner and Team President Craig Brown. “We’re excited to welcome back Iggy, Bob, and Nate to the Greenville community as they continue the work of developing major-league caliber players for the Boston Red Sox. We were fortunate to receive an invitation to compete at the Class A Advanced level alongside this coaching staff and know the talented players coming to Greenville this season will benefit from this experienced and accomplished coaching staff.”
Under Suarez’s guidance, the Drive put nine players on the South Atlantic League All-Star Game roster between 2018-19, in addition to having Red Sox top-prospect Triston Casas named an end-of-season All-Star in 2019. Suarez piloted the Drive to a second-place finish in the Southern Division second half standings and 64 total wins in 2018.
The 38-year-old Suarez joined the Drive following two seasons managing the Lowell Spinners 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.
“We can’t wait to get back to Greenville, and get the 2021 baseball season underway,” noted Suarez. “I know that our coaching staff, myself included, certainly missed the city, ballpark, and the incredible fans of Greenville last year. It’s always special to begin the baseball season, but even more so when we step back on the field this year!”
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. In 2019, 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. Seven Drive pitchers amassed at least 100 strikeouts over the 2018 & 2019 seasons.
The 55-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.
Spears returns to Greenville for his first season as hitting coach, having spent the last three seasons in the same role for the Lowell Spinners. Prior to his time in Lowell, Spears was the assistant coach for the Drive in 2016 in his first season as a coach in the Red Sox organization.
Spears played 12 seasons of professional baseball as an infielder from 2003-14, including 2010-12 in the Red Sox organization. He played for four other MLB organizations, but his lone major league appearances came with the Red Sox from 2011-12. After a 2011 conversation with then Red Sox Manager Terry Francona about becoming a utility player, Nate finished his career playing at all infield positions.
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.
Kuchwara will make his Greenville debut in 2021 as the team’s athletic trainer, following four seasons in Salem. He worked in the same capacity for Lowell in 2015, as well as for Portland and Pawtucket. A Colorado resident, Nick received his B.S. in Athletic Training from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2012 and went on to receive his M.S. in Exercise Science and Health Promotion with a concentration in Rehabilitation Sciences from California University of Pennsylvania in 2013.
Hudson will also make his Greenville debut this season as strength and conditioning coach, having spent the last two seasons in the same role for the Salem. Hudson received his B.S. in Exercise Physiology from Plymouth State University in 2012, before receiving his M.S. in Exercise Science and Strength and Conditioning from Springfield College in 2015.
"The Drive’s 2021 season will certainly be an exciting one in Greenville," added Drive General Manager Eric Jarinko. "Not only will we finally get to celebrate our 15th Anniversary Season with the best fans in baseball, but also extending our affiliation with the Red Sox now as their Advanced-A level affiliate! We are excited to welcome back Iggy, Bob and Nate to our coaching staff, while introducing John, Nick, Joe, and the 2021 roster to the Upstate Community!”