Sources: LSU To Hire Pitching Coach Wes Johnson Away From The Twins
In a bold move, sources told Baseball America that Louisiana State will hire away Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson in the same role. Johnson will return to the college game after 3.5 seasons in the major leagues to join coach Jay Johnson’s staff.
Wes Johnson was regarded as one of the best college pitching coaches in the country in 2018 when the Twins hired him away from Arkansas to join their big league staff. He became the first coach in 40 years to move from a college dugout directly to MLB.
Now, Johnson is blazing a trail in the opposite direction. While Jose Cruz Jr. and Chip Hale left the Tigers big league coaching staff last summer to return to their alma maters as head coaches, leaving MLB to become an assistant coach is uncommon.
During Johnson’s tenure, the Twins twice won the AL Central Division and again are in playoff position today. The Twins ranked in the top 10 in MLB in team ERA in each of Johnson’s first two seasons in Minnesota.
Now, Johnson returns to the college game, where his coaching career began. He previously worked at Arkansas, Mississippi State and Dallas Baptist, building a long track record of success. In 2018, his final year as a college coach, he helped Arkansas to a runner-up finish at the College World Series.
Johnson takes over at LSU following the departure of Jason Kelly, who was hired as head coach at Washington. The Tigers staff struggled at times during the spring but improved as the season went on and finished sixth in the SEC with a 4.32 team ERA. That staff returns several high-end talents like righthanders Ty Floyd, Will Hellmers and Grant Taylor and lefthander Javen Coleman. LSU this week also added righthanders Christian Little (Vanderbilt) and Dylan Tebrake (Creighton) via the transfer portal. LSU has the No. 2 ranked 2022 recruiting class, which figures to bring even more talent to Baton Rouge, but several of the best pitchers are risks to be drafted and sign next month.
With so much talent on hand and Johnson’s big league experience, expectations will be high for the LSU pitching staff in 2023. But that’s nothing new for the Tigers or Johnson.