Wes Johnson Season 2023
Wes Johnson, the pitching coach of the American League Central Division-leading Minnesota Twins, has been hired as pitching coach at LSU, coach Jay Johnson announced on June 27, 2022.
Wes Johnson will begin his tenure at LSU later this week after coaching the Twins in their five-game series against the Cleveland Guardians. His hiring is effective upon the completion of LSU’s background check process and approval by the university’s Board of Supervisors.
Wes Johnson, a native of Sherwood, Ark., had worked as a collegiate pitching coach since 2008 – including SEC stints at Mississippi State and Arkansas – before joining the Twins and becoming the first pitching coach in MLB history to make the move directly from the college ranks to the big leagues.
His first Twins staff in 2019 set a club record with 1,463 strikeouts, and he helped lead the team to back-to-back AL Central Division titles in 2019 and 2020. The 2020 Twins staff established a club record for strikeouts-per-nine-innings-pitched (9.38).
Johnson coached Minnesota right-hander Kenta Maeda to a 2.70 ERA and a 6-1 record in 2020, earning him a runner-up finish in AL Cy Young Award balloting.
The Twins this season are in first place in the AL Central with a 41-33 mark, two games ahead of the Guardians. Johnson’s pitching staff has a 3.78 cumulative ERA, which ranks No. 7 in the American League.
During his tenure as a college coach, 30 of Johnson’s pitchers have been drafted by MLB teams. Prior to accepting the job with the Twins, he was the pitching coach at Arkansas in 2017 and 2018, helping lead the Razorbacks to a national runners-up finish at the 2018 College World Series.
Johnson developed Arkansas ace right-hander Blaine Knight, who posted a 14-0 record in 2018 and was selected in the third round of the MLB Draft by the Baltimore Orioles.
At Mississippi State in 2016, Johnson produced six pitchers that were selected in the MLB Draft, most notably Dakota Johnson as the 34th overall selection by the St. Louis Cardinals. After Mississippi State won only eight SEC games the season prior to Wes Johnson’s arrival, the 2016 Bulldogs captured the SEC regular-season title and advanced to an NCAA Super Regional.
Johnson coached five Dallas Baptist pitchers that were chosen in the first 12 rounds of the 2015 Draft, and he helped lead the Patriots to NCAA Regional appearances in three of his four seasons at DBU (2012-15). The 2014 Dallas Baptist staff set school records for strikeouts (506) and opponent batting average (.248).
Johnson served as the pitching coach for three seasons (2008, 2010-11) at Central Arkansas, where his hurlers set school records for ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, opponent batting average and fewest walks.
Johnson worked as the pitching coach in 2009 at Southern Arkansas, where he mentored right-hander Hayden Simpson, who would go on to become the first-round pick of the Chicago Cubs in the 2010 MLB Draft. Johnson’s 2009 Southern Arkansas staff set a Gulf South Conference record with 499 strikeouts.
Prior to coaching collegiately, Johnson spent four seasons as the head coach of Abundant Life High School in his hometown of Sherwood, Ark., guiding the Owls to a 102-25 overall record and consecutive state titles 2006 and 2007.
Johnson earned a degree in marketing in December 1994 from the University of Arkansas Monticello. He and his wife Angie have three children – Ryan, Anna and Ava.