San Diego Padres Prospect Gabe Ribas

Eloquent, high school valedictorian, writer, President, and English Major. Not quite the traits of your average Minor League player. Yet Gabe Ribas is all of that and more. He couples those traits with pinpoint control, an amazing work ethic, unbelievable numbers, and humility that earned him the San Diego Padres Minor League Pitcher of the Year award in 2003. Ribas works not only to make the Majors, but also to give back to the community along the way.

That and the persistence of Mike Wiemer with the Fort Wayne Wizards led him to start ‘The Farm Report', an online journal of his journey through the Minors.

"I really enjoy doing it," Gabe Ribas said. "I was an English major in college and I wrote for a newspaper in Keene, New Hampshire for two summers while I was playing baseball for the Swamp Bats out there. It is definitely something I enjoy doing and I hope to write in some way, shape or form for a long time.

"I know for sure I will continue to write for Fort Wayne until they cut me off. Mike has asked me to do it for as long as I can, until they tell me to stop. I really like it.

"Hopefully, I have something to contribute to not only the website but the team itself and the community too. I had a great time in Fort Wayne and I missed it when I left. I will always hold it close to my heart so hopefully the updates keep people informed."

Ribas was promoted from Fort Wayne to Lake Elsinore after compiling a 13-3 record for the Wizards. San Diego's 14th-round selection in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, Ribas led Padres minor league pitchers in wins (17) and strikeouts (152) while he tied for fourth in ERA. Ribas, a 2003 Midwest League All-Star, posted a 17-8 record in 29 starts and a 3.29 ERA between Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore. With gaudy numbers such as the ones he posted, it would seem Ribas is a little too good to continue the report.

That could not be further from the truth.

"I think one of the things that motivate me to do it is that I think sometimes we struggle with how to give back, how to give our time. So if we can detail that and really cover what happens in our day-to-day lives, I think it gives them a sense of who we are as players. We are just like them, we just happen to throw on a uniform everyday."

The fact is there is not enough coverage in the Minor Leagues and as a player gets close to the Majors, the only thing fans know are the stats they looked up the day before. That, however, is not an indication of who a player really is.

"That is absolutely true. I couldn't agree with you more. The guys that are in the big leagues are well-rounded human beings just like everyone else out there. One of the things I talk about a lot is our jobs are like anyone else's. You go tot the office everyday, you work hard while you are there and there are all kinds of personalities in the office. Some guys you like, some guys you don't."

Ribas, from Brunswick, Maine, was valedictorian of his high school and took his education as serious as he does his job on the mound.

Ribas considered Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth, but eventually ended up at Northwestern, which met his academic requirements while offering Big Ten baseball. It took a little coaxing as Ribas sent a package of his accomplishments to Northwestern before they eventually brought him in on a full scholarship.

He has since completed his four-year degree before being picked by the Padres in 2002.

"I think for us it is important to realize that the fans out there are interested in all the little things we do."

Ribas is as comfortable in his role model outfit as his uniform. Leading by example is the only way he knows. That and tossing a mean ball from the mound.

This year he will start in Lake Elsinore and it won't be a surprise if he is in Mobile before the year is through. Along the way, he will continue to give back to the community. Lake Elsinore is the beneficiary now, but as he continues to write for Fort Wayne, it is clear he takes care of those he leaves behind.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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