Experience: 11th Season at Vanderbilt Honors: * 2004 National Pitching Coach of the Year *
* 2010 National Assistant Coach of the Year *
Derek Johnson is in his 11th year as a coach at Vanderbilt and his third as Associate Head Coach. Johnson has spent the last 10 seasons as the Commodores pitching coach and is regarded as one of the top teachers in collegiate baseball.
Johnson helped lead Vanderbilt to the school's first-ever College World Series in 2011 with the pitching staff leading the Southeastern Conference in ERA and strikeouts. The Commodores' pitching staff was armed with eight players that were selected in the major league baseball draft, including first round picks Sonny Gray and Grayson Garvin bringing Johnson's total to six Vanderbilt pitchers drafted in the first round. Taylor Hill along with Gray and Garvin made every weekend start during the season with Gray and Garvin earning All-American honors. On his way to setting the school record with 13 wins Garvin became the second VU pitcher to be named SEC Pitcher of the Year in school history joining David Price, both under the tutelage of Johnson. The Dores also had two freshmen hurlers pick up Freshmen All-American honors in Kevin Ziomek and T.J. Pecoraro.
The 2010 Commodore pitching staff posted a 3.69 ERA and 557 strikeouts ranking behind eventual national champion South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference. The club's hurlers allowed the fewest home runs in the league and tossed six shutouts, second-most in the SEC. Johnson's efforts did not go unnoticed as he was named the ABCA/Baseball America Assistant Coach of the Year.
Sonny Gray led the Vanderbilt staff and was tabbed as Baseball America's Summer League Player of the Year joining David Price and Mike Minor as the third Commodore pitcher to win the award in the last five years. On his watch, 26 pitchers have been drafted including 20 over the last six years.
Vanderbilt's pitchers led the SEC with six shutouts and six complete games in 2009. The team's ERA (4.66) ranked fourth best in the league. Junior Mie Minor was selected seventh overall by the Atlanta Braves to become the fourth VU pitcher to be drafted in the first round in Johnson's tenure. Minor made his major league debut in 2010, making him Johnson's fourth Commodore hurler to reach the major league level (David Price, Jensen Lewis and Jeremy Sowers).
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 in 2007 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. In 2007, 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 an ERA 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.
In 2003, Vanderbilt's Jensen Lewis earned Freshman All-America honors and extended to five the number of consecutive years a player under Johnson's guidance was so honored. In 2005, David Price joined this group becoming the sixth pitcher to earn the honor under Johnson. Sowers (2002) and Stetson's Jack Collins (2001), Andy Wilson (2000) and Lenny DiNardo (1999) all likewise were honored. That same year four Commodore pitchers (Lewis, Nick Pilkington, John Scott and Matt Buschmann) combined to pitch the first perfect game in Vanderbilt history and only the eighth in SEC history, a 4-0 victory at Western Kentucky. Sowers capped his career in 2004 when the Cleveland Indians made him the No. 6 overall selection in the Major League Baseball draft.
At Stetson, DiNardo ultimately developed into a third-round choice by the New York Mets in 2001 and was a two-time All-American and a member of the USA Baseball national team. Before he came to Vanderbilt, Johnson spent four years as pitching coach at Stetson. During that time his teams won one Atlantic Sun Conference championship (2000) and earned two NCAA Tournament berths (2000 and 2001).
He began coaching at Eastern Illinois in 1994, one year after he was an All Mid-Continent Conference pitcher at the school. In 1995 he was hired by Southern Illinois, where he worked for three years as a pitching coach. He also has had summer stints as manager of the Decatur Blues in the Central Illinois Collegiate League (1994-95) and pitching coach for the Anchorage Glacier Pilots (1996).
A native of Normal, Ill., Johnson is married to the former Tasha Huster. The couple has an eight-year old son, Teague, and a five-year old daughter, Taite.