Rays name Michael Johns new first-base coach

November 8th, 2023

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays moved quickly and promoted from within to fill one opening on their Major League coaching staff, naming Michael Johns their new first-base coach on Wednesday morning.

Johns is entering his 19th season in professional baseball, including his 17th as a manager, coach or coordinator. He spent last year managing the Rays’ Triple-A Durham affiliate, guiding the Bulls to an 88-62 record and a trip to the International League Championship Series. This is his first Major League assignment.

“I am thrilled to congratulate and welcome Michael Johns to serve as our first-base coach,” manager Kevin Cash said in a statement. “He has had many roles within our organization, and I look forward to him bringing his experience to the Major League club.”

Johns, 48, will replace Chris Prieto, who was let go along with assistant hitting coach Dan DeMent last month. Like Prieto, Johns will also work with Tampa Bay’s outfielders and oversee the club’s baserunning work.

Selected by the Rockies out of Tulane in the 19th round of the 1997 Draft, Johns spent two years in Colorado’s system. He last played in 1999, then wound up coaching high school baseball, including three years as the head coach at Orange Park (Fla.) High School from 2004-07.

Johns joined the Rays organization on Dec. 11, 2007, and he has been working in Tampa Bay’s system ever since.

Johns got his start as a coach with Hudson Valley from 2008-09, then managed five affiliates over eight seasons: Rookie-level Princeton (2010-12), Class A Hudson Valley (2013), Class A Bowling Green (2014) and Class A Advanced Charlotte (2015-17). Before returning to the dugout as Durham’s manager, Johns spent five years (2018-22) as a Minor League field coordinator.

The Rays likely won’t name another assistant hitting coach to replace DeMent. With Jonathan Erlichman rejoining the front office, it’s unclear if the club will fill his spot with another process and analytics coach.