Detroit Tigers new director of pitching Gabe Ribas will have key role in minors

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The Detroit Tigers took the next step in their player development plans Tuesday, hiring Gabe Ribas as the organization's director of pitching.

Stealing Ribas away from the Los Angeles Dodgers, with whom he has spent the last four seasons as a pitching coordinator, happened about two weeks after the Tigers hired Ryan Garko as the new vice president of player development.

"We have to have people teaching how to teach," Tigers general manager Al Avila said Tuesday. "With the new information, the new technology, the average coach that maybe is not too accustomed to that has to be taught a new way."

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Tigers pitching coach Chris Fetter meets with players on the mound during the fifth inning against the Royals on Saturday, May 22, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo.
Tigers pitching coach Chris Fetter meets with players on the mound during the fifth inning against the Royals on Saturday, May 22, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo.

Ribas, 41, delved into many areas of player development with the Dodgers. One well-respected member of Los Angeles' organization described him as a "great, hard working, intelligent guy" in a text message to the Free Press.

He worked with coaching staffs, performance science, strength and conditioning and baseball analytics to develop the farm system's pitching development program. The Tigers have already individualized pitching plans at the big-league level — thanks to pitching coach Chris Fetter — but need improvements in the minor leagues.

That's why the Tigers added Ribas.

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"We're trying to bring in new people that have a better understanding of (advanced analytics) and can teach it, so that our entire player development system — from top to bottom — is running on the same wheel," Avila said. "A guy like Gabe Ribas is a very similar hire to Chris Fetter. You'll see a lot of initiatives from Chris Fetter going down to Gabe Ribas and then all through the minor-league system."

Along with helping the Dodgers' pitchers, Ribas aided coaches in the minor leagues. He helped them understand, formulate and execute data-driven development plans. The concept of "coach development" is at the forefront of the Tigers' thinking moving forward under Garko's leadership as the VP of player development.

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Before Ribas worked for the Dodgers, he was an associate head coach at Santa Clara University from 2011-17. He held similar assistant roles in college baseball at Northern Colorado (2010-11), Holy Cross (2009-10) and Northwestern (2007-09).

Ribas played in college for Northwestern and in the minor leagues for the San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies. The Padres selected him in the 14th round of the 2002 draft, and Ribas pitched 97 games (61 starts) with a 4.13 ERA over his four-year career in the minors between the Single-A and Double-A levels.

The right-hander also played three seasons in the Canadian-American Association.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers hire Gabe Ribas as director of pitching