The 2013 LMU baseball team officially started practice on Monday, energetically taking to Page Stadium with the goals of its first WCC Championship since 2000 and much more. The practice opened with a speech from fifth-year head coach Jason Gill before going into discussions and drills.
Danny Ricabal, who spent six years serving as a pitching coach at various levels in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim organization prior to coming to LMU, is in his second season as LMU's pitching coach. Ricabal, who was teammates with LMU head coach Jason Gill at Cal State Fullerton in 1994, helped guide LMU to an even 27-27 overall record and a 14-10 mark in the WCC during the 2012 season. The conference record saw the Lions finish tied for third. Working with a young pitching staff, Ricabal guided freshmen right-handers Trevor Megill and Colin Welmon to All-WCC selections, including an honorable mention nod for Megill.
Prior to joining the Lion family, Ricabal guided the Inland Empire 66ers to the wild card round of the 2011 Class-A Advanced Southern Division playoffs. Including the 2011 playoff berth, Ricabal went to the postseason in five of the six years coaching in professional baseball.
"We are lucky to be able to add an experienced pitching coach the caliber of Danny Ricabal to the organization," Gill said of Ricabal's hire. "Danny has a proven track record of success as a pitching coach from Division I to professional baseball, and he has worked with some of the best pitchers in the game at all different levels of play. As a collegiate athlete, Danny pitched in Omaha and knows what it takes to get there. He has coached at the Division I level and has a clear understanding of how to get his pitchers to reach their full potential. There are few coaches in the college ranks that have the experience of pitching in Omaha, coaching Division I and coaching in professional baseball. He is the total package, and the LMU baseball program made big strides in our quest to be champions with the addition of Danny Ricabal."
Ricabal began his coaching career in 2000 as the pitching coach for College of the Canyons before serving as an administrative assistant at Cal State Fullerton in 2001. Ricabal spent his next three seasons with another Big West ballclub, serving as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for UC Santa Barbara. While there, he worked with numerous pitchers who would go pro, including Virgil Vasquez who most recently pitched in the Major Leagues for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After the three years with the Gauchos, Ricabal moved on to the professional ranks, spending his first two seasons with the Arizona League Angels (2006) and Class-A Cedar Rapids Kernels (2007). His 2006 squad led the Arizona League in ERA at 2.39, while he also helped Vladimir Veras to an 8-2 record and a 1.35 ERA en route to Pitcher of the Year accolades. Ricabal's staff once again led the League in ERA in 2007, as Cedar Rapids posted a mark of 3.21, guided by the pitching of Organizational Pitcher of the Year Sean O'Sullivan. That squad also set a Midwest League record for fewest walks allowed in a season, issuing just 303 at a rate of 2.30 per nine innings.
Prior to taking the role of pitching coach with Inland Empire, Ricabal spent the previous three seasons with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes from 2008-10. While working with the Quakes in 2008, Ricabal saw O'Sullivan post a league record of 16 wins while also helping to develop Major Leaguers Trevor Bell, Bobby Cassevah, David Herndon and Jordan Walden. Add to those names two more current Angels in Tyler Chatwood and Garrett Richards, and Ricabal has developed many of the young arms that have helped the Angels to the second-best ERA in the American League this year.
In his two years at Fullerton, Ricabal compiled an impressive 23-4 record under Division I baseball's all-time winningest coach Augie Garrido. Ricabal went 12-1 with a 2.81 ERA his senior season in 1994, including a 2-0 record in the College World Series. He was an All-American selection his junior season, posting an 11-3 record. Prior to his success at Fullerton, Ricabal was a Junior College All-American at Cerritos College where he compiled a 10-1 record in 1992.
Signed by the Dodgers as a free agent in 1994, Ricabal went 5-1 with a 0.31 ERA and 12 saves in his first season at Yakima. Ricabal holds the Florida State League record for most appearances in a season with 75 for Vero Beach in 1997. In the 1996 South Atlantic League finals, Ricabal tossed eight shutout innings in relief for a game-three win before converting on a save in the nightcap to lock up the League Championship. The right-hander finished his professional career with the San Francisco Giants organization in 1999.
Ricabal, who owns the Play Hard Baseball Club, a youth baseball academy in Pasadena, Calif., grew up in Rosemead, Calif., and was a graduate of San Gabriel High School. He is currently working toward a degree in business management.