Minnesota Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson is stepping down, reportedly for the same position with the LSU Tigers

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson has told the club he will be leaving his job this week, ostensibly for the same role at LSU.

Johnson traveled to Cleveland with the team Sunday night, where he will remain for the five-game series scheduled through Thursday, Twins spokesman Dustin Morse said.

According to a report by D1Baseball.com on Twitter, Johnson has accepted the position of pitching coach at LSU. LSU spokesman Bill Franques said the Tigers plan to announce a new pitching coach Monday, though he did not identify the hiring.

The twins did not confirm Johnson’s target. Further announcements from the club about the change of personnel will come this week. The Athletic reported that Johnson will receive a significant pay rise.

The midseason move of a key assistant from a top-ranked team was surprising, but so was Johnson’s arrival in 2019. He became the first college pitching coach in four decades to rise straight to the big leagues when he was hired by the 2018 College World Series national runners-up Arkansas Twins.

Johnson, 50, spent nine seasons as a college pitching coach before the Twins chose him with a keen eye on his background in biomechanics. He has a master’s degree in kinesiology.

Johnson, who is from Atlanta and made his home in Fayetteville, Arkansas off-season, also had stints in Mississippi State, Dallas Baptist and Central Arkansas. He was a high school coach before entering the college ranks.

Johnson presided over the pitching staffs for division champion teams during his first two years, and the Twins have returned to the helm of AL Central this season. They lead the Guardians with two games entering their key series this week. Minnesota has a team ERA of 3.78, which ranks 11th in the majors. The twins finished 26th in ERA last year, fourth in 2020 and ninth in 2019, while Johnson was in charge of staff.

Twins pitchers routinely praised his Johnson’s energy, positivity and wisdom, as late as Saturday night when Chris Archer threw five innings of shutout with one allowed to Colorado.

“Wes is one of my biggest advocates,” Archer said after the 6-0 win at Target Field. “We do a lot of work between starts, mentally and physically.”

LSU has long been a force in college baseball. The Tigers are one of only three schools to have won six national championships, all accumulated between 1991 and 2009. They have made it to the College World Series 18 times, most recently in 2017.

Coach Jay Johnson has just completed his first season at LSU, which ended 40-22 and was eliminated in their NCAA region’s last game against Southern Mississippi, and is already losing two of his staff to promotions elsewhere.

Assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Dan Fitzgerald was hired as the head coach in Kansas. Pitching Coach Jason Kelly was hired as the head coach at the University of Washington.