Twins announce Baldelli's coaching staff

Johnson (pitching), Hefner (bullpen), Diaz (third base), Watkins (first base) join team

November 15th, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins officially added four coaches to manager Rocco Baldelli's staff on Friday, as they hired Wes Johnson (pitching coach), Jeremy Hefner (bullpen coach), Tony Diaz (third-base coach) and Tommy Watkins (first-base coach).

The moves came after the Twins decided not to bring back pitching coach Garvin Alston, bullpen coach Eddie Guardado, third-base coach Gene Glynn and first-base coach Jeff Smith. Major League coach Jeff Pickler was also not retained, but Minnesota hasn't hired a replacement yet. The Twins retained hitting coach James Rowson, assistant hitting coach Rudy Hernandez and bench coach Derek Shelton.

Hefner, 32, was the Twins' advanced scout the past two years. He was with the club for all 162 games and used video and analytics to help pitchers. He pitched for the Mets from 2012-13.

Like Hefner, Watkins is being promoted from within the organization. He has been in Minnesota's farm system since 2009, serving as manager of Double-A Chattanooga in '17 and Class A Advanced Fort Myers in '18. Watkins also played with the Twins in '07.

Diaz, 41, was a long-time first-base coach for the Rockies. He gives the Twins a second bilingual coach, joining Hernandez, and is known for his work with infielders.

Johnson, 41, is the only one of the group without professional coaching experience. Most recently, he was the pitching coach for the University of Arkansas during its run to the College World Series championship against Oregon State this season.

Prior to his time at Arkansas, Johnson served as pitching coach for Mississippi State University, Dallas Baptist University and Central Arkansas University. He's known as a forward-thinking, analytical coach who uses technology such as Trackman to help his pitchers find a consistent release point and unlock greater velocity.

According to his Arkansas bio, Johnson has helped develop more than 40 pitchers who were drafted or signed professional contracts over the past 11 years, including Dakota Hudson, the No. 34 overall Draft pick in 2016, and Blaine Knight, the No. 87 overall pick in the '18 Draft. Johnson, a Sherwood, Ark., native, graduated from the University of Arkansas-Monticello in 1994.