Twin pitching coach Wes Johnson hired as LSU pitching coach

11:03 p.m: Johnson will receive an annual salary of $750,000 from LSU, Gleeman and Hayes report, a significant increase over the roughly $350,000 a year the coach received from the twins. Johnson will actually go to LSU when the twins’ streak in Cleveland ends on Thursday.

7:17 p.m: Maki Gets Promotion And The Twins’ New Pitching Coach, Gleeman And Hayes Report (via twitter). From hay, Talks between the Twins and Johnson were more about “what could do [the] Job more attractive” for Johnson, and he did not ask the club for more money. LSU, meanwhile, has been “very aggressive” in recruiting Johnson.

6:30 PM: In a surprise midseason move, Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson is leaving the team to return to the collegiate ranks due to D1 Baseball’s Kendall Rogers (Twitter link) reports that Johnson has been hired as LSU’s new pitching coach. Johnson is in his fourth season with the Twins but has previous SEC connections – he worked as a pitching coach in Mississippi State and Arkansas before joining Minnesota in November 2018.

Johnson had never worked in pro baseball before being hired by the Twins, although several teams in recent years have hired coaches from more varied than usual backgrounds as players, coaches or managers at the MLB or minor league level . In that regard, Johnson was something of a pioneer of this trend, being an early adopter of Trackman technology himself at the college level.

As of the start of the 2019 season, the Minnesota pitchers rank 10th in baseball in fWAR (46.8), which is a strong total even when you factor in the injuries and poor performance that plagued the Twins during their disappointing 2021 season. The start of pitching was seen as a big question mark for the Twins heading into 2022, but the club weathered another string of injuries to post strong-to-respectable numbers in multiple categories. Success stories include Chris Archer‘s comeback year and rookie joe ryan He did well in his first full MLB season.

The pitching was a reason for the Twins’ 41-33 record and promotion to first place in the AL Central. With that in mind, it’s all the more unusual that Johnson is leaving so abruptly – Dan Hayes of The Athletic reports that the twins only found out about Johnson’s negotiations with LSU yesterday. With Minnesota about to begin an important five-game series against the Guardians, Aaron Gleeman of The Athletic adds that Johnson is expected to stay with the Twins until this streak is over.

Arguably, assistant pitching coach Luis Ramirez or bullpen coach Pete Maki are the likeliest candidates to step into the Minnesota pitching coach role, at least temporarily. Given the sudden nature of Johnson’s departure, the twins may be more inclined to wait until after the season to hire a permanent replacement.