Dec. 22, 2009
GREENVILLE, SC – The Boston Red Sox have announced that the coaching staff for the reigning Southern Division Champion Drive has changed for the 2010 season. Former Clemson Tiger All-American Billy McMillon, who served as the Drive’s hitting coach in 2008 and 2009, will make his managerial debut.
He will be joined by former major leaguers Luis Lopez and Kevin Walker, both of whom were with the Lowell Spinners last season, as hitting coach and pitching coach, respectively. The trio of McMillon, Lopez, and Walker have combined for a total of 23 years of Major League service.
With the 2010 Drive coaching staff set, the Red Sox have insured that their highly acclaimed player development system is set to continue its winning ways as many of the organization’s top prospects have the opportunity to play at Fluor Field at the West End. Three of Boston’s affiliates advanced into the postseason during 2009 – the Drive, the Spinners, and the Salem Red Sox.
Drive General Manager, Mike deMaine noted, “The Red Sox are among the best in the game at scouting, drafting and developing emerging major league talent. Current major leaguers Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Jonathan Papelbon, and Kevin Youkilis are great examples of effectiveness of the Red Sox development system.” deMaine added, “We are looking forward to welcoming Billy back as he makes his managerial debut, as well as introducing Luis and Kevin to the Greenville community.”
McMillon, who made his professional coaching debut in 2008, takes over for Kevin Boles who will serve as Salem’s manager this season. A native of Columbia, SC, McMillon helped guide the Drive to the franchise’s first playoff appearance in 2009. Under McMillon’s guidance the Drive finished third in the South Atlantic League in hitting (.260), third in home runs (91), third in hits (1222), second in runs batted in (601), second in runs scored (663), and second in total bases (1840). In two short seasons, McMillon has helped develop several of the Red Sox’ top offensive prospects including Josh Reddick, Ryan Kalish, and Che-Hsuan Lin.
A six-year Major League veteran, McMillon broke into the big leagues with the Florida Marlins in 1998. A lifetime .248 batter, he also made stops in Philadelphia, Detroit, and finally in Oakland, where an injury in 2004 forced him to retire. McMillon attempted a comeback with the Red Sox in 2005, but was unable to bounce back.
“I feel very honored taking over as the Greenville Drive’s manager,” commented McMillon. “It is a very tremendous opportunity, and I look forward to helping to shape the future of the Boston Red Sox. With the addition of Luis and Kevin, you can be sure that we will be fielding a very competitive team in 2010.”
Although both Lopez and Walker will be new to the Drive coaching staff, they are sure to see plenty of familiar faces once the rosters are announced. The duo served on the Lowell Spinners’ staff in 2009, leading them to the New York-Penn League’s Stedler Division title.
Walker, who made his professional coaching debut a year ago, takes over for Greer resident Bob Kipper as the Drive’s pitching coach, who will now serve in the same capacity for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs. Walker made a splash in his first year, guiding the Spinners to the league’s second best earned run average with a 2.96 mark, including southpaw Jose Alvarez who’s 1.52 clip was tops amongst all New York-Penn pitchers. In addition, Walker’s staff led the league with 638 strikeouts.
A left-handed relief pitcher, Walker spent six seasons in the major leagues with the San Diego Padres (2000-03), San Francisco Giants (2004), and Chicago White Sox (2005). A former 6th round selection, Walker went 7-1 with a 4.19 ERA during his rookie season in 2000.
Lopez begins his third season in the Red Sox organization, having served as Lowell’s hitting coach the previous two seasons. In 2009 the Spinners ranked third in the league in batting (.253), third in hits (645), second in runs scored (352), second in runs batted in (309), and second in stolen bases (103).
A veteran of 11 major league seasons, the former infielder had stints with the San Diego Padres (1993-94, 1996), New York Mets (1997-99), Milwaukee Brewers (2000-02), Baltimore Orioles (2002-04) and Cincinnati Reds (2005) before retiring from baseball in 2006 to begin his coaching career.
Drive President and Co-owner, Craig Brown, commented on the announcement, noting, “The continuing success of the Red Sox at both the Major League and Minor League levels says much about the quality of their player development and coaching staffs and the wisdom of their emphasis on the draft and player development as a key factor to their success”. Brown continued, “Billy McMillon, Kevin Walker, and Luis Lopez have proven track records of successfully working with young prospects and 2010 promises to be another great year of baseball at Fluor Field. We can’t wait to get started.”
Ticket plans, group outings, and hospitality accommodations are currently on sale for the 2010 season. Call (864) 240-4500 to speak with a representative or log onto to www.GreenvilleDrive.com for more information.
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