Wes Johnson's Impact

There is no question that Arkansas has had a strong pitching staff through the years, but there is also very little doubt that it’s going to continue to be a strength with the addition of Wes Johnson as pitching coach. I spent close to an hour with Wes this morning as I write a feature on Dominic Taccolini. I visited with Dominic last week.

There is an uptick with these pitchers. They are confident that they will be better this year and not by just a little. Johnson has helped them with velocity and the ability to locate pitches by fine tuning their technique and with an improved mental approach. There are guys that have added pitches to their selection. Taccolini has added a very good curve ball to his two-seam pitch, his main out pitch in the past. Keaton McKinney has added a curve ball. Throughout the staff, there has been a jump in velocity, but the ability to use more pitches is what Wes Johnson has brought to this staff.

Wes believes in a lot of the mental things I’d heard in golf. He loves the work of golf psychologist Bob Rotella, someone I like to read. So we had some interesting talks there. Confidence, routine and visual approach are big in golf. He said they are just as big in pitching and all of Rotella’s work translates into what he teaches to the pitchers. It’s about visualizing pitches and then hitting those spots.

I will work on that feature this afternoon and perhaps it will be on the site later today.

Just as a side note, Wes Johnson is big on nicknames. He thinks they help give a player an identity and he’s always liked doing it. He’s given most of the pitchers new nicknames. Here’s a few:

Dominic Taccolini – Diesel Truck (because he’s big and strong)
Isaiah Campbell – The Professor (wears glasses and helps teaches the youngsters)
Kevin Copps – The Policeman (he enforces the law on the mound)
Josh Alberius – Big Al (and that’s in addition to his old nickname, The Cockroach, which Wes likes)
Barrett Loeske – Drill Bit (because his pitches drill holes in bats)

:lol: I love the nicknames!

Here is more on Wes Johnson’s first fall with the team: http://www.wholehogsports.com/news/2016 … new-coach/

Good stuff! Thanks, Clay.

I was very troubled when Dave Jorn resigned. Today I am very excited about Coach Johnson. I guess it doesn’t much to get me excited about Razorback baseball but I’m expecting good things from the team this year. I already have my tickets and my hotel reservations for the Frisco Classic. Let’s go Hogs!

Oh, I have nickname suggestion for McKinney “The surgeon”. I know he has had some control problems but I hope he can live up to it.

McKinney has been the Change-up for most of his UA career. I hear he’s added a decent curve. If that’s the case, there may be lots of options for nickname - like Star.

Ashdown’s Jaden Hill is a big fan of Johnson.

http://www.wholehogsports.com/news/2016 … hing-coac/

I was told by a college coach (not at Arkansas) that the Razorbacks now have the best tandem of recruiters in the nation. He said many teams have one good recruiter, but Arkansas now has two really good recruiters. Tony Vitello is much respected as a recruiter, but so is Wes Johnson. That will give Dave Van Horn a great tandem to go on the road. I don’t think anyone ever thought Dave Jorn was a stud recruiter. Todd Butler was the lead recruiter for most of those great pitchers that Jorn had. But Johnson is a stud recruiter.

But you can bank on this, Jorn did a good job in helping Van Horn lure Johnson to Arkansas. So, maybe his last recruiting effort was his most important. Give Dave Jorn credit for helping get Wes Johnson to Arkansas.