Monday, August 8, 2022

Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson leaving team midseason for same role at LSU, reportedly for huge raise

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The Minnesota Twins are losing pitching coach Wes Johnson to the Louisiana State University Tigers, where he’ll serve in the same role. The Twins announced Johnson’s departure on Monday morning while adding that he’ll remain with the organization until the conclusion of their five-game series against the Cleveland Guardians. (That series will run until Thursday.)

“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 in a press release. “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 all the best during his next stop at LSU.”

Johnson will be making his return to the college ranks and, specifically, to the Southeastern Conference after serving as the Twins pitching coach since 2019. Prior to joining the Twins, he had filled coaching roles with both the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Johnson, 50 years old, was at the time the first collegiate coach in decades to make the leap directly to the majors.

Johnson’s departure is as notable as his arrival since it comes at a time when the Twins are leading the American League Central by two games of the Guardians. The Athletic has since reported that Johnson will receive a significant raise, from the $350,000 he made with the Twins to $750,000 with LSU

The Athletic also noted that bullpen coach Pete Maki is expected to take over as pitching coach. Maki was originally hired from the college ranks as well, having served as the pitching coach at Duke. 

Industry sources who have spoken to CBS Sports over the past 10 months have pointed out a recent trend of Major League Baseball teams losing coaching and scouting talent to the college ranks for a variety of reasons, including better compensation, greater control, and reduced travel and scrutiny. 

The Twins aren’t the first AL Central team to fall victim to the trend in the past year. The Detroit Tigers lost assistant hitting coach José Cruz Jr. to the Rice Owls.

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