Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell is starting to fill out his coaching staff, poaching a pitching coach from a division rival:

Pitching coach Derek Johnson is reportedly leaving the Brewers to take the same position with the Reds, a source confirmed to’s Mark Sheldon. MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal was the first to report the news. The club has not confirmed the hiring.

Johnson spent the past three seasons as Milwaukee’s pitching coach, and he had a key role in developing pitchers Jhoulys Chacin, Chase Anderson, Jimmy Nelson and Wade Miley. He now assumes the challenge of turning around the Reds’ staff, which ranked among the worst in baseball this season.

Johnson began his coaching career in the collegiate ranks with jobs at Eastern Illinois, Southern Illinois, Stetson and Vanderbilt, where he spent 11 years and produced six first-round Draft picks and 13 future Major Leaguers. He served as the Cubs’ Minor League pitching coordinator from 2013-15 before joining the Brewers.

Something odd is going on with the Brewers; after finishing in first place and nearly making it to the World Series, the club’s pitching coach and hitting coach (who went to Arizona) have moved on to other organizations. I don’t know much about Johnson, but he is reportedly very highly-regarded within the game, and this seems like a strong first hire for Bell’s staff.


12 Responses

  1. Jordan Barhorst

    I’d love for this to be a precursor for the Reds to sign Gio Gonzalez or Wade Miley. Johnson helped them out a ton in Milwaukee. He could also hopefully do the same with Harvey, should the Reds re-sign him.

  2. IndyRedsFan

    Tom, Really good read. Thanks for posting.

    All, long article, but definitely worthwhile if you want to get a feel for Johnson’s approach.

  3. Jeff Reed

    Thank you for posting the writeup about Derek Johnson and his coaching philosophy. However the Reds got him away from the Brewers, it seems like a good move.

  4. scotly50

    It appears the Reds are stepping in the right direction. Johnson is not a retread. They must have come off the hip to bring him here. Gives me hope for the Reds as becoming a real player in the pitching free agency market.

  5. I-71_Exile

    Wow. Thanks for sharing that link, Tom. I’m impressed with the level of detail in that interview and quality answers from Mr. Johnson. This gives me hope that the Reds are actually serious about turning this ship around.

  6. Sowelo

    Great move for the Reds. What Johnson did with the Brewers pitching staff was amazing. Especially Wade Miley. He was basically a gas can before joining the Brew Crew. This hire gives me hope.

  7. Jeff Reed

    I also could not agree more regarding team chemistry. Winning teams have it even when some players don’t particularly care for each other personally such as the BRM. The main element in team chemistry is the desire to win.

  8. TXRedleg - Mike C

    This is an A+ hire. The Reds just greatly increased their ability to land higher caliber free agents and I think we are going to see some great improvement in these young arms as their confidence increases under Johnson. Do yourself a favor and read his book, The Complete Guide to Pitching and you’ll be as giddy as me on this hire.

  9. Tom Mitsoff

    Without any inside knowledge of the situation, it’s a good guess that he decided to leave because the Reds stunned him with a monetary offer that the Brewers wouldn’t match. Notice Stearns said they had lengthy negotiations to try to retain him. That probably wouldn’t have been necessary if the Brewers were willing to match the offer. Because why would Johnson make a lateral move (some would say backward move) for the same money he could make with a World Series team?

    I live in Wisconsin, and the Milwaukee sports talk show hosts were quite bummed about this turn of events.

  10. Nate

    This is more exciting than David Bell being named as manager. We’ve heard for years about the great young arms, hopefully this will produce some good pitchers.