A Second-Team All-Big Ten selection at Northwestern in 2000 and the San Diego Padres minor league Pitcher of the Year in 2003 Gabe Ribas (GR) takes over as the Bronco pitching coach under new head coach Dan O'Brien. SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCB) recently talked with Ribas about his philosophy as a pitching coach as well as goals for the upcoming season of Santa Clara Bronco baseball.
SCB: What is your philosophy as a pitching coach?
GR: My philosophy, at it's core, is that we have to be aggressive in the strike zone all the time. There is never a point when I want us to stray away from attacking the hitter. Most guys talk about pitching to contact and getting the hitter on or out in three pitches but I say we want him on, out or struck out in four pitches. I love the non-competitive out, and I want our guys to have a feel for the strike out. If we are always attacking we will get soft contact and keep our pitch counts low, but when we have a chance to win the battle and put the at batter away, I want us to punch tickets. Success on the mound is a byproduct of throwing consistent strikes with two or more pitches and putting pressure on the guys at the plate to make decisions because we work fast and in the zone.
SCB: What is your main goal for this season from a pitching perspective?
GR: In the past the staffs that I have taken over (Holy Cross and Northern Colorado) have had to learn how to throw more strikes. With this group here at Santa Clara, we have a lot of guys that don't walk people. We had one of the lowest walks-per-nine totals in the country last year, and that jacks me up! I think the evolution we need to make is that our focus on finishing at bats and innings gets better and that we learn what quality pitches really look like and how those lead to wins. I want us to be very focused on the process of pitching and not worry much about our numbers. I want the pitching staff to be great leaders and to be able to handle any kind of adversity. More than anything I want the guys to know that they are supported and that the work they put in will translate to great things on the field.
SCB: What is the most important thing you preach to your pitchers over and over again?
GR: There are so many things that the guys hear me say over and over again, but more than anything pitching is about mentality. You don't have to have the best stuff in the world to be a great pitcher, but you need to have the swagger to win. I want every guy to want the ball in their hands when all the chips are in the middle of the table and it is time to get it done. I want them to be in attack mode all the time and trust that you have put in all the work that it takes to be great.
SCB: Do you have one pitch that you teach to all your players? (i.e. 2 seam fastball, cutter, split, etc.)
GR: Not really. Every pitcher is different. I have things that I like to see and I have things I am comfortable teaching, but my job as a coach is to learn how to work with the gifts and tools of each individual player. It's all about putting the guys in situations where they can be successful. If I coached everyone the same, and every one of our guys threw the same arsenal of pitches, we would be pretty easy to hit.
SCB: What can fans look forward to this year from the Bronco pitching staff?
GR: Fans are going to see an aggressive group that works fast and pushes the pace of the game. We are going to be a fun unit to get behind. I fully believe that this staff is going to keep us in every ball game. Like everything in the program, our pitching staff is going to take care of the details and do a great job of helping us become a championship team.