You really seem to be very excited about hiring Wes Johnson as your new pitching coach. What are some things about him that excite you?
"I think that Wes brings something that every player wants, he is a proven developer of talent, a proven developer of velocity, a proven developer of spin. He is somebody that is very respected by the baseball community, the professional and college community. We talked to the players who played for him. It is remarkable what they said about him. In fact, I was looking at twitter last night, and seeing all the things his players said about him was pretty remarkable."
You mentioned velocity. I watched all but two of your fall scrimmages. Of your 24 pitchers I had 18 who topped out at 90 or above. Of your 10 freshmen pitchers, all 10 topped out at 90 or above, with 8 of those topping out at 91. Can he develop their velocity even more?
"Oh, of course. When we sat down and talked to him the first two things that we wanted to talk about in regard to our pitching staff, was number 1, their health and number 2, their command. Then, he wanted to talk about velocity and spin. He is just a master of the Trackman type technology that we have here at Mississippi State. I think he has the chance to make everyone of our players at Mississippi State better. And that is what we are after."
When you contacted folks you know in the college and professional baseball community, what did they say about him?
"The most common thing that I heard from college coaches is that they didn't know how he was doing it. Guys are showing up (at Dallas Baptist) throwing 84, 85 miles per hour and end up throwing 94, 95. That just doesn't happen a lot. And it is happening routinely with him. It's not just happening at Dallas Baptist because he left a first-round draft pick at the University of Central Arkansas when he left there. He has been able to develop arms wherever he has been."
Speaking of developing arms, only Vanderbilt, among all SEC schools, can say they have had as many pitchers drafted in the top 10 rounds of the Major League Baseball Draft the past three drafts, seven. Johnson did that at Dallas Baptist the past three years. They don't recruit at the same level a Vanderbilt can but he developed the same type talent, draft-wise, the past three seasons as Vanderbilt did. Did you tell you how he did that?
"Yes, it is a very intricate system which treats every pitcher individually. It stresses things like sleep, diet, very specific workouts. And the other thing is his pitchers trust him. I think that is something that is invaluable at this level."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network.