Wes Johnson did not run from the labels.
Weirdo. Iconoclast. Voodoo coach.
Johnson heard some variation of them all over the past decade, when he first set up shop as the pitching coach of Dallas Baptist University armed with mysterious tracking technology, funny balls and a commitment to maximum velocity.
These days, Johnson’s still hard to miss: He’s clad in a Minnesota Twins uniform, as he completes a rare leap from collegiate assistant to major league pitching coach.
And somewhere along the way, from those early days at Dallas Baptist through eye-opening stints at Mississippi State and Arkansas, Johnson ceased being the oddball.
“I was for a while,” he says, “but not anymore.”
Baseball’s ever-tighter embrace of data and technology is now reflected in its uniformed dugout personnel. No longer are the manager’s aide-de-camps only getting hired after extensive coaching apprenticeships in the minor leagues, or driven largely by cronyism.
Instead, they are emerging from industrial parks and hitting caves, and collegiate programs that scouts once needed an atlas to find.