By JOEL COLEMAN
Mississippi State will introduce Wes Johnson as its new pitching coach at an 11:30 a.m. press conference Friday sources confirmed to the Starkville Daily News on Thursday.
The Bulldogs have been in the market for a pitching coach since Butch Thompson vacated the role last week to take over as the head coach at Auburn.
Johnson comes to Mississippi State after spending the last four seasons at Dallas Baptist University. In 2015, Johnson’s staff posted a 3.32 team earned run average helping the Patriots advance to the Dallas Regional.
DBU pitchers also held opponents to a .243 batting average in 2015, the best mark in school history.
DBU advanced to regionals in three of Johnson’s four years at the school.
College baseball insider Kendall Rogers of D1Baseball.com told the Starkville Daily News on Thursday that he believes MSU made an excellent decision to bring Johnson on board.
“Wes Johnson is a name that not a lot of people in Mississippi and elsewhere will know, but he’s an outstanding pitching coach who has flown under the radar at Dallas Baptist,” Rogers said. “Not only has DBU had premier, big-time arms throughout Wes’s tenure, but many of those big arms were developed into that by Wes. He’s capable of making sure the power arm makes a smooth transition to college, and he can turn the average arm into one of the best. He’s one of the best.”
Johnson arrived at DBU after spending the four previous seasons coaching at both the University of Central Arkansas and Southern Arkansas University. During his three seasons in the Southland Conference at UCA, Johnson’s pitching staffs set Division I school records in ERA, strikeouts, batting average against, and fewest walks.
In 2009, Johnson was part of the coaching staff at Southern Arkansas University, helping the school post a 52-11 overall record, which found them ranked No. 1 in the Division II National Poll for 20 weeks. While working with the pitchers, Johnson helped the staff set school records in both strikeouts and walks allowed, while posting a 3.49 team ERA, which ranked 10th in the nation. The staff’s 499 strikeouts also set a new Gulf South Conference record.
Johnson’s hire comes just days after media reports indicated Cal State Fullerton’s Jason Dietrich would be hired as pitching coach by Mississippi State. However sources said earlier this week that Dietrich was never officially offered the position and both sides mutually decided on Monday that MSU wasn’t a good fit.