The Twins are set to hire their next pitching coach, the first significant additions to the coaching staff under new manager Rocco Baldelli.
Wes Johnson (pitching coach) and Jeremy Hefner (bullpen coach) are joining Baldelli’s coaching staff, a source told 1500ESPN. They’ll replace Garvin Alston and Eddie Guardado, respectively. The Athletic was first to report that Johnson would be the new pitching coach.
Johnson will leave the University of Arkansas to take the post on the Twins staff. Hefner worked with the Twins the past two seasons, primarily focusing on advanced scouting and video work. Hefner, a former MLB pitcher with the Mets, was with the Twins last season on a daily basis to help improve the quality of the pitching staff, among other tasks.
Johnson may not be a household name around the Majors. Then again, neither was their last pitching coach, Alston, at the time they hired him. Alston was let go after one year on the job as new manager Baldelli overhauled his coaching staff.
Johnson’s bio on the Razorbacks website claims that he’s “known nationally for his player development and ability to increase velocity throughout his staff.”
Velocity, of course, is only one measure. If Johnson — and the Twins’ development staff in the minor leagues — could effectively get the most out of pitchers where others could not, there’s huge theoretical value to those development roles.