Johnson heading to top Juco program

Posted 2/29/24

Powell High School senior and Powell Pioneers pitcher Brock Johnson made it official on Monday, signing to the four-time NJCAA national champion Central Arizona College Vaqueros to continue his …

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Johnson heading to top Juco program


Powell High School senior and Powell Pioneers pitcher Brock Johnson made it official on Monday, signing to the four-time NJCAA national champion Central Arizona College Vaqueros to continue his baseball and academic career.

Johnson will take his talents south to Coolidge, Arizona, which is located just southeast of Phoenix to further his career after this upcoming season.

Johnson is a three-time first team All-State selection at the ‘A’ level in Wyoming, and was named the pitcher of the year this past season after helping lead the Pioneers to their first state title in 13 years.

Last year he finished with a 14-1 record in 15 starts for the Pioneers, pitching 80.1 innings while only giving up 16 earned runs en route to a 1.394 ERA.

Johnson had a .946 WHIP, only giving up 39 hits along with 152 strikeouts.

Despite also being a strong Pioneers hitter, Johnson is hoping to solely focus on pitching while heading down to Arizona.

“I want to continue with my confidence and what I’ve built so far,” Johnson said. “I work pretty hard so hopefully all of my success will continue while I’m down there. I know it will be harder competition but I will go in with confidence.”

The Vaqueros are one of the top teams at the NJCAA level, currently holding a 15-5 record and ranked No. 8 nationally.

Central Arizona has won four titles, with the most recent coming in the 2022 season.

Johnson said that he competed at pitching showcases following the 2023 season for the Pioneers, which is where he caught the eye of the Vaqueros.

“That’s where they saw me was at a showcase in Arizona. It helped to get that extra exposure and it was good baseball too, which is always fun,” Johnson said.

Weather was also a factor  in his decision to head south. Having grown up in Wyoming, Johnson said he is looking forward to being outside to compete year-round.

“That was part of the process was the weather and the climate. They don’t have many indoor facilities because they don’t need it,” Johnson said. “Being outside and having that extra element will be exciting especially after growing up in Wyoming. I haven’t visited (campus) yet which is kind of scary but I’ve had so many calls with the coaches and that’s what sold me.”

He said he also caught the attention of Division I programs, having received an offer from one, but ultimately he decided to go to a junior college program due to the restrictive rules placed on four year colleges regarding the MLB Draft.

“I had a Division I offer and was talking to a few others. I didn’t want to go there and sit on the bench,” Johnson said. “There’s different aspects about when you can register for the draft. In JUCO they said I would start playing right away. There’s also limitations and rules that the Division I level has that JUCO doesn’t. I just wanted to go play baseball.”

Players attending four-year colleges cannot enter the MLB Draft until they have either played three years of competition or once they reach 21 years of age.

Central Arizona has had 168 players drafted directly from the college, with 20 going on to play in the MLB including three All-Stars — Ian Kinsler, Tom Pagnozzi and Doug Jones who are all former Vaqueros.

Despite being a two-time All-State basketball player for the Panthers, Johnson said that continuing on in basketball was never an option.

“I know I am decent at basketball but baseball has always been my sport. I think it will take me a little further than basketball ever could,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that in baseball, the Pioneers coaches have been able to help him not just physically but mentally to help him prepare for competition.

“They’ve helped skillswise but also mentally,” Johnson said. “Getting through games with confidence helps a lot. They are good people to be around. If I was in a different position with a different coach I may not like the sport itself as much.”

Johnson knows that heading to Arizona will send him far away from his family but trying to take that next step in baseball will be key in his journey.

Academically Johnson is hoping to begin with his general studies before potentially shifting into kinesiology or exercise science in college but wants to continue to be involved in sports regardless of whether it be coaching, playing or helping in the future.