The Twins announced Friday that they’ve promoted bullpen coach Pete Maki to the position of pitching coach. Maki’s move up the coaching ladder comes on the heels of former pitching coach Wes Johnson’s surprising midseason departure. Johnson will reportedly receive a raise and can earn up to $750K to serve as the pitching coach at Louisiana State University — a position that will require far less travel over a shorter season and allow Johnson to spend more time with his young family. Minnesota also promoted Colby Suggs, previously an advance scout and the team’s coordinator of run prevention, to Maki’s former role of bullpen coach.
Maki, 39, has been with the Twins since 2018 — first serving as the organization’s minor league pitching coordinator before taking on the role of bullpen beginning in 2019. He’s a familiar voice for the staff to work with, though Johnson’s departure is still a notable loss, given his reputation around the game and his popularity within the clubhouse. Prior to working with the Twins, Maki (like Johnson and Suggs) coached in the college ranks, most recently as the pitching coach at Duke from 2015-17.
Suggs, still just 30 years old, was the No. 73 overall pick by the Marlins in 2013 but hasn’t pitched professionally since 2016. He launched his coaching career with the Arkansas Razorbacks, spending 2018 as the bullpen coach alongside none other than Johnson, who was the pitching coach at Arkansas prior to being hired by the Twins.
Johnson’s departure for an NCAA position may still strike some as strange, but R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports recently suggested that it could be the beginning of a trend both in the coaching and scouting ranks (Twitter thread). Colleges tend to offer larger salaries, more limited travel and greater control for coaches, Anderson observes, adding that Johnson’s situation may not ultimately prove to be unique.