Minnesota Twins hire Pitching Coach Wes Johnson, continue culture shift
By Nate Palmer
The Minnesota Twins have put together the majority of their coaching staff and the name turning head is new pitching coach Wes Johnson.
The Minnesota Twins continue to shape their new staff of coaches after the firing of Paul Molitor and subsequent hiring of Rocco Baldelli. One of the largest question marks left on the coaching staff was who would replace pitching coach Garvin Alston after his surprising firing after only one year on the Twins staff.
The Twins announced Thursday the hiring of their new pitching coach Wes Johnson who most recently served as the pitching coach for the University of Arkansas. Following in the trend of just about every Falvey-Levine hire to this point, Johnson seemingly came out of nowhere and has the casual baseball fan asking, “Who?”
Dan Hayes of the Athletic is the one who broke the news about the Twins hiring of Johnson and has also provided us with some detailed information about the college coach. Johnson is known for his use of analytics and more specifically the use of TrackMan. Along with his use of analytics, he also bucks the usual trend of instructing pitchers to repeat their deliveries and instead focuses on a consistent release point height.
Even if the approach is different from what we have heard for years it has produced results for Johnson. Some notable names of pitchers that Johnson has coached that are now big leaguers include Dakota Hudson of the St. Louis Cardinals and Blaine Knight who the Baltimore Orioles drafted in the 3rd round of 2017.
Other Coaching Positions filled
Friday we learned of most of the rest of the Twins coaching staff as well. The first hire we had learned of was Jeremy Hefner‘s transition from the front office to the field. It was initially believed that he would be the bullpen coach but we now know he will be the assistant pitching coach. Hefner was a pitcher himself and has most recently been working in advanced scouting for the Twins front office. Conveniently enough, Hefner is also a believer and user of TrackMan.
The long tenured Twin Tommy Watkins will become the team’s first base coach. Watkins was drafted by and starting playing for the Twins in 1998. Then in 2009, Watkins stepped right out of playing and into coaching in the Twins organization. Most recently Watkins managed the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts and has also managed the Salt River Rafters into the championship game of the Arizona Fall League in 2018.
The last coach we know of is new third base coach Tony Diaz. Diaz fulfills the need expressed by Rocco Baldelli in his opening interviews of a Spanish-speaking coach. He has been a long time member of the Colorado Rockies and now will find himself sending Twins players to home plate.
We still wait on the announcement of the Twins bullpen coach but one would think that would come soon. This staff certainly looks to be of a completely different nature than the one just let go after the firing of Molitor. Now that we better know who the staff is, it is time to start signing some free agent deals!