NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin announced today that he is promoting Derek Johnson to Associate Head Coach.
Johnson has spent the last eight seasons as the Commodores pitching coach and is regarded as one of the top teachers in collegiate baseball.
“DJ’s is very deserving of the title of Associate Head Coach in so many ways,” said Corbin. “Not only is he in a very small class of great pitching coaches in the country, he serves as an ambassador and role model to the kids and our baseball program here at Vanderbilt.”
Last season the Commodore pitching staff sported a 4.66 earned run average, fourth best in the Southeastern Conference. Vanderbilt finished among the top five in the conference in nine statistical categories, and led the league in shutouts (six) and complete games (six). Junior Mike Minor was drafted by the Atlanta Braves with the seventh overall pick in the draft, marking the fourth Vanderbilt hurler to be selected in the first round during Johnson’s tenure.
Four of his last seven staffs have led the SEC in ERA while also being ranked nationally at No. 15 (2003), No. 7 (2004), No. 17 (2005) and No. 13 (2007), respectively.
During his watch, 22 pitchers have been drafted over the last eight seasons including 16 over the last five years.
In 2008 Johnson’s staff was comprised mainly of sophomores and freshmen. They finished sixth in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings at 9.13. Redshirt freshman Caleb Cotham was third among SEC starters in strikeouts per nine innings while sophomore Mike Minor led the league in innings pitched (103.0). Redshirt freshman Russell Brewer made the switch from infielder to closer and finished third in the league with eight saves.
Johnson’s 2007 crew led the SEC in eight statistical categories including ERA (3.55), strikeouts (632), opponents batting average (.238), complete games (7) and runs allowed (266). Vanderbilt hurlers also threw a school record 606.2 innings in 67 games with 13 saves.
Six pitchers were drafted and signed into the professional ranks, led by No. 1 overall pick David Price (Tampa Bay Rays) and the No. 8 overall pick Casey Weathers (Colorado Rockies). Price (the consensus National Player of the Year) shattered the school’s single season and career strikeout records in just three years and Weathers, just two years removed from playing the outfield in junior college, developed into the top closer in the country in 2007 with 10 wins in relief.
Southpaw Mike Minor (9-1, 3.09 ERA) was a first-team Freshman All-American and was named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year by SEBaseball.com.
Johnson’s 2006 staff led the SEC in strikeouts with 574 in 65 games, an average of nearly nine a game. Also in 2006, nine of his pitchers combined to record a school record scoreless innings streak of 38.2 innings over a span of five games in March.
The 2004 ERA was second best in school history, while all four regular starters finished with ERAs below 3.50. That VU staff struck out a then school-record 518 batters and had 17 saves led by Ryan Rote’s school-record 11. Jeremy Sowers became the third Commodore pitcher to ever win at least 10 games in a single season.
Johnson’s efforts earned him the 2004 Collegiate Baseball’s National College Pitching Coach of the Year sponsored by JC Video but were nothing out of the ordinary in what quickly has become a distinguished career, which has included stints in the collegiate and summer league ranks.