Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson leaving team for same job at LSU
Johnson will remain with the Twins through Thursday's game against the Cleveland Guardians. Bullpen coach Pete Maki will then be promoted to the lead role as Johnson's replacement, sources told The Athletic's Gleeman and Dan Hayes.
"Wes Johnson has been an integral part of our organization over the last three-and-a-half seasons and has helped guide our pitchers at the highest level," Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said.
"His leadership, insight, creativity, and ability to effectively work across a diverse team were hallmarks of his time with the Minnesota Twins. His influence and impact will continue to be realized in Minnesota through the pitchers and staff members he helped mentor. We wish him and his family the best during his next stop at LSU."
The news appears to have caught Johnson's current employer by surprise. Minnesota only found out about his discussions with LSU on Saturday, Hayes reports.
Johnson's credentials are well established in the NCAA ranks. The Sherwood, Arkansas, native built a reputation as one of the best pitching coaches in college baseball prior to joining the Twins in 2019, with stops at Central Arkansas, Mississippi State, Dallas Baptist, and most recently Arkansas.
When he joined Rocco Baldelli's staff in Minnesota, it marked Johnson's first professional coaching job. He also became the first coach in almost four decades to jump straight from the NCAA to the majors, according to Teddy Cahill of Baseball America.
The first-place Twins have enjoyed solid production from their pitchers under Johnson's tutelage this season. Minnesota's staff owns a 3.79 ERA, ranking 11th in the majors, while right-hander Joe Ryan has emerged as an AL Rookie of the Year candidate.
Johnson will take over an LSU team that finished 2022 as the No. 18-ranked team in Division I baseball. Tigers pitchers had the sixth-best ERA (4.32) in the SEC this year under former pitching coach Jason Kelly, who's now the head coach at Washington.