The Cubs purchased the contract of RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx from the Victoria Seals of the Golden Baseball League last week. Bibens-Dirkx is a former member of the Seattle Mariners organization (16th round pick in 2006 out of the University of Portland), who was released by the Mariners at the end of Minor League Camp this past April. He will be assigned to the Cubs Peoria affliate in the Midwest League, where he will probably work out of the bullpen.
The Cubs acquire players from independent leagues from time-to-time, and Bibens-Dirkx is just one of many players who have received a second chance to continue their professional baseball career in recent years by playing independent ball. A typical salary for a player on an independent team is $1,000 a month, so a fellow really has to love the game to spend his summer playing indy ball.
Independent leagues are located all over North America, from Canada to Mexico, and from New England to California. Ex-major leaguers like Jacque Jones, Carl Everett, Armando Benitez, Felix Jose, Willie Banks, Keith Foulke, Pat Mahomes, and Jose Lima dot the rosters, as do a number of former Cubs minor leaguers
EX-CUBS MINOR LEAGUERS PLAYING IN INDEPENDENT LEAGUES
3B Billy Mottram
RHP Tommy Mejia
Traverse City Beach Bums:
1B Sean Hoorelbeke
RHP John Muller
Windy City Thunderbolts:
RHP Billy Petrick
Long Island Ducks:
INF Kyle Reynolds
Sioux City Express:
1B Luis Bautista
Ft. Worth Cats:
LHP Taylor Parker
Gary Southshore RailCats:
RHP Grant Johnson
LHP Carmen Pignatiello
RHP Bear Bay
Among the ex-Cub minor leaguers playing indy ball, Billy Mottram (selected by the Cubs in the 36th round of the 2007 draft out of Dowling College before getting released in 2008) leads the Frontier League in home runs and John Muller (signed as a NDFA 5th year senior out of St. Thomas Acquinas College in May 2007) is 2nd in the FL in saves, Adam Greenberg (hit in the helmet with a pitch in his one and only MLB AB on July 9, 2005) and Chris Walker are 3-4 in the Atlantic League in stolen bases, while Brandon Sing is 2nd in the AL in OBP, 3rd in SLG and RBI, 4th in HR, and 8th in BA, and Nic Jackson (2000 3rd round pick out of the U. of Richmond and perennial BA Cubs Top 10 Prospect who was hampered by injuries throughout his seven seasons in the Cubs organization) is 1st in doubles and runs scored, 4th in hits, 5th in stolen bases, and 10th in BA in the Northern League.
RHP Bobby Brownlie (selected by the Cubs in the 1st round of the 2002 draft out of Rutgers and then later released in 2007) was probably one of the two best pitchers in the Atlantic League in May and June while pitching for the Newark Bears, before being acquired by the Atlanta Braves about a week ago. Brownlie is currently in the starting rotation at the Braves AAA International League affiliate in Gwinnett County, GA. (The Braves also acquired the other top starting pitcher from the Atlantic League last week, ex-MLB LHP John Halama from the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs).
And Cubs 2005 #1 pick LHP Mark Pawelek (released by the Cubs the last week of Spring Training) signed with the St. George Roadrunners of the Golden Baseball League in April before being acquired by the Cincinnati Reds in May, and he is presently working out of the bullpen for the Reds Sarasota affiliate in the Florida State League.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate and he is a fast runner with good instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.
Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.
Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.
Considering how players reacted it seemed pretty accurate high and wide (to righties), but not so accurate low and in. I thought the strike zone by the ump was awful, but it was consistent and the Cubs never adjusted.
Rizzo and Bryant need to have good at bats. They are really looking outclassed in these two games.
that game sounds fun as hell.
I was just wondering the same thing. I'd rather not see it at all. If it's inaccurate, it's a bad viewer experience. If it's accurate, it shows some shitty calling by the umpire.
TBS' K Zone seems to be more harsh than the others.
I wonder if MLB will ask the networks to stop using them. They just make the umps, and the game, look bad, and it only pisses off the fans.