The Phillies and Joe Girardi have lost a member of their coaching staff to the Cubs and David Ross: bullpen catcher/receiving coach Craig Driver.
Phillies Bullpen Catcher/Receiving Coach Craig Driver was among members of Joe Girardi‘s coaching staff recently speculated to possibly re-join Gabe Kapler on the San Francisco Giants.
Well, just weeks later, it appears Driver is indeed leaving the Phillies after just two seasons, but instead to join new-manager David Ross‘ staff on the Chicago Cubs as first base/catching coach, according to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers.
It is not known whether the Phillies will seek to replace Driver, or whether Bullpen Catcher/Catching Coach Bob Stumpo will not have an expanded role.
Driver thrived over the past two seasons with the Phillies, his first professional coaching position. As bullpen catcher/receiving coach, Driver worked regularly with the Phillies’ lone All-Star, and eventual Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Award-winner J.T. Realmuto.
Realmuto’s offensive and defensive awards are indicative of the stellar season he had in 2019, his first in red pinstripes. In part thanks to Driver, Realmuto was able to post the ninth-best defensive WAR in the National League (1.7). Among NL catchers, he turned the most double plays (14), had the most caught stealings (43) and highest caught stealing percentage (46.7), among other feats.
Prior to joining the Phillies, Driver spent the 2016-17 college season in a similar role on Yale’s coaching staff; he helped them to the 2017 Ivy League Championship and 2017 Red Rolfe Division Championship, as well as clinching an appearance at the 2017 Corvallis Regional Final. That year, Yale won a program-record 34 wins.
Before that, the former collegiate catcher was on the University of Puget Sound’s staff as athletic recruitment coordinator and head assistant coach during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 collegiate seasons, as well as catching coach and first base coach in 2012-13. He was also an assistant for Central Washington University in 2013-13.
Now, with the Cubs, Driver joins fellow former catchers and now-coaches Ross, Mike Borzello, and Mike Napoli. “If Willson Contreras (and [Victor] Caratini) is ever going to improve on some weaknesses, now is the time,” Rogers tweets.
Driver holds a degree in business and a minor in mathematics, as well as a master’s in athletic administration.