Johnson joining baseball staff as pitching coach

Wes Johnson

Mississippi State head baseball coach John Cohen promised one of the nation’s elite pitching coaches would be joining his program soon.

State’s skipper fulfilled his promise last Friday [Oct. 30] when he announced 18-year coaching veteran Wes Johnson as MSU’s new pitching coach. Known nationally for his player development and ability to increase velocity throughout his staff, Johnson arrives in Starkville after serving as the pitching coach the past four years at Dallas Baptist University. During his tenure in Texas, DBU advanced to three NCAA Regionals, had 14 pitchers drafted and set single-season records for earned run average, strikeouts, saves and every other major statistical pitching category.

“We are pleased to welcome Coach Johnson to our staff,” said Cohen, whose last two pitching coaches went on to become head coaches alongside him in the Southeastern Conference. “His background and resume speaks for itself. Wes is one of the premier pitching coaches in the country. His teaching skills and adaptability will make this transition seamless.”

Johnson's track record for development is apparent in the fact that he has had 24 pitchers drafted or sign professional contracts in the last eight years. This past summer, Johnson had five pitchers chosen in the first 12 rounds, more than any Southeastern Conference school. The last three seasons, Johnson has had seven pitchers selected in the top-10 rounds, which would have tied for the most in the SEC during that span. Dallas Baptist had only six pitchers drafted in the first 10 rounds in the 44 years prior to Johnson’s arrival (1967-2011).

“It is a tremendous honor to join the Mississippi State baseball program and I want to thank Scott Stricklin and head coach John Cohen for this wonderful opportunity,” Johnson said. “Having lived in the South my entire life surrounded by college baseball, I am very aware of MSU’s tradition and prestige. I look forward to working with this talented pitching staff and bringing the very best out of them as we continue our quest to succeed at the highest level.”

Johnson was a key component in DBU winning a school-record 46 games in 2015, hosting their first NCAA Regional and earning the program’s highest final ranking in school history. The Sherwood, Arkansas native had three pitchers earn All-America honors and two more earn all-conference accolades from the Missouri Valley Conference.

Johnson earned a degree in marketing in December 1994 from the University of Arkansas Monticello. While at DBU, Johnson earned 33 hours working toward his masters in kinesiology. Off the field, he and his wife Angie have three children -- Ryan (22), Anna (16) and Ava (6). The Johnsons attend First Baptist Church in Midlothian, Texas.

The new assistant will spend his Friday in Starkville meeting his new pitchers and catchers, before immediately hitting the road to recruit as the Bulldogs prepare for the early signing period Nov. 11-18.

“Recruiting is the lifeblood of any program and MSU has done a great job in landing three straight top-10 recruiting classes,” said Johnson, who made DBU one of three programs nationally to have a pitcher drafted in the top three rounds in each of the last three years. “Along with Coach Cohen and Coach (Nick) Mingione, I will work tirelessly toward our goal of making sure the best high school players in the country attend Mississippi State.”

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