Independent Living

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

 

FRONTIER LEAGUE:

Florence Freedom:
3B Billy Mottram

Kalamazoo Kings:
RHP Tommy Mejia

Traverse City Beach Bums:
1B Sean Hoorelbeke

Rockford RiverCats:
RHP John Muller

Windy City Thunderbolts:
RHP Billy Petrick

 

ATLANTIC LEAGUE:

Bridgeport Bluefish:
OF Adam Greenberg
1B Brandon Sing

Long Island Ducks:
INF Kyle Reynolds

Camden RiverHawks:
LHP Chris Shaver
OF Chris Walker

 

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION:

Sioux City Express:
1B Luis Bautista

Ft. Worth Cats:
LHP Taylor Parker

 

NORTHERN LEAGUE:

Gary Southshore RailCats:
RHP Grant Johnson

Schaumburg Flyers:
LHP Carmen Pignatiello

Fargo-Morehead RedHawks:
OF Nic Jackson
LHP Scott Koerber
C Alan Rick

Winnipeg GoldEyes:
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.

Comments

Phil, any rumors regarding DJ Lemahiew signing a contract soon? Thanks.

I saw Bobby Hill play for Newark before he signed with the Cubs. Jersey Transit stops a block from the park. I was living in NYC at the time and it was fun to take a ten minute ride from Penn Station to see some cheap baseball in a nice little ballpark.

Austin Bibens-Dirkx

Isn't he the little alien bad guy Superman has to get to say his own name to get him back into his own universe?

Austin Bibens-Dirkx

Easily makes up in nomenclature what we lost in Albuquerque.

So Pawelek goes from Boise doghouse to Daytona equivalent by way of release in 2 Months?

Chances he makes the majors at this point? 20%

Braun big fan of Cubs pitching, Brewers not so much.
Also calls out Melvin to make a move.

Enjoy first place.

http://www.realgmbaseball.com/src_wiretap_archives...

ESPN:
"Their starting pitching is a lot better than ours," Braun said. "They threw the ball a lot better than our starters did. They certainly swung the bats better than we did. Clearly they were the better team. It's nice to get the one win but they clearly outplayed us and outperformed us all series."

Wwwwwwwhaaaaaaaaaaaaaa? A pitching staff featuring Jeff Suppan as the opening day starter is only a mediocre pitching staff? F'real?

Oh, and I hate the guy anyways, but to hear him blame the team and front office for not being better is bad form and vindicates my feelings on this douchebag.

jacos:
Hey get off our ledge!!

lol :)

I heard from a friend that Ryan Braun has a pet horse named Mr. Hands.

dear god

I would flip Soriano for Braun in a nanosecond.

AZ Phil, with your post I was thinking about Independent League signings that panned out for us. I thought of Joe Borowski as one right away, any others that I am missing?

Are there any prospects we have that look pretty good that were Independent League signings?

Amazing thing about Borowski, he wasn't exactly tearing up Newark when we signed him, had a 5.50 ERA and 1.617 WHIP; guess our scouts saw something there.

But the Brewers staff has one thing ours does not - it's called an ace & theirs is named Gallardo; closest thing we got was named to the AS squad yesterday...and to think he was slotted #4 in last year's playoffs

Okay ace-for-ace... Lilly v Gallardo... I'll give you Gallardo, he might be worth 1 win, maybe 2 over Lilly the rest of the year. The back end of their rotation is complete and utter trash, though.

I'd still take their bullpen over ours - at least at this moment.

BTW - how many options does Samarjdja have left?

He still needs "seasoning".

I still don't get Hendry giving the guy a $10MM signing bonus.

Yeah, their bullpen is very very solid. I guess that's how they're able to get away with such a trashy rotation.

Boy, I'm with you there. They need something other than a radar gun to evaluate a guy's fastball--like the way a hitter's eyes widen in the on-deck circle. In Samardzija's second inning Saturday they were taking BP. Even Kendall couldn't resist trying to hit one out. (His shot made it to the warning track.)

I like Tim Wilken and worry about his reputation, which has two stains right now, Samardzija and Colvin. Colvin may have begun to wipe away one stain; but I'd also like to believe that Samardzija was entirely Hendry's call and not Wilken's. Not that Samardzija wasn't a decent 5th-round pick, but there are rumors that Wilken was very high on him. When I google Wilken and Samardzija all I see is tepid praise. Can anybody point me to a quote where Wilken is saying that Samardzija was a top pick if people knew he would play baseball?

Otherwise, it's just Hendry throwing away money again.

DL: Samardzija has less pitching experience than most college signs, while Huseby has had Tommy John
surgery. In recent drafts, projectable former position players with
fresh arms have been taken by other teams. Are we seeing the start of
any trends here?

TW: It’s probably more cyclic than anything. We didn’t really do
it by design, as we thought those guys were our best options,
talent-wise, when we picked--in the case of Samardzija, one of the best
in the whole draft.

and...

“He’s got a chance to be a front-line pitcher
and top-of-the-order guy.
He’s got a very free and easy arm action; a
very fast arm and a very coordinated delivery. He has a chance to have
a solid to average slider, if not better. There’s a lot of untapped
promise there. He’s very competitive and has a chance to be a power
pitcher that could be a top of the rotation guy.”
 

"One of the best in the whole draft" is a strong statement. Thanks for that.

The rest, I think, is consistent with what you might say about a fifth-round pick, including that he could be front-line and top-of-the-order.

"We thought those guys were our best options, talent-wise, when we picked."

"He has a chance to have a solid to average slider, if not better. There's a lot of untapped promise there."

"He’s very competitive and has a chance to be a power pitcher that could be a top of the rotation guy.” There's a double hedge in there--"has a chance to be a power pitcher that could be a top of the rotation guy"--but maybe it's just a professional scout being low-key.

When Wilken talks about a real first rounder, he's more specific:

“He’s got a four-seam fastball and has pretty good control and command of his fastball," Wilken said of Cashner. “I liken his breaking ball ... this is about as close to a power curve as you’re going to see in baseball. This is one of the reasons why we drafted him, because he’s got two put-away pitches for us and he’s also shown some feel for a changeup.

“He’s very athletic (and) he gets off the mound extremely well. He’s flexible and holds runners pretty good. He’s about as good a package as what you might see out there.”

what will they be??? Aramis, Johnson and Guzman back with Hart and Fuld going down, 3rd spot??

Good question. Surprised no one is talking about it.

~G~

follows up 2 near no-hitters by giving up 7 runs in 2/3 of an inning of work...

thanks for the update AZ Phil...

Thanks 10-Man. We'll have to see.

I would not bet on any Hendry firing scenario in the short-term. Rickets and Hendry "go back".

In any case, I wonder how contracts move forward with new owners? Would a contract entered into by the Tribune Corp., be honored/moved forward by a new entity?

I suppose there is a "buyout clause" in these situations?

Just wondering out loud.

No, I don't think they get out of Soriano's or Milton Bradley's contracts. :-p

I wonder how contracts move forward with new owners? Would a contract entered into by the Tribune Corp., be honored/moved forward by a new entity?

A new owner assumes any contracts that the previous owner entered into. Not sure if there are buyout clauses for these situations, but I would doubt it.

Actually, I was wondering on the management side. Not the player side. No unions for GM's either lol.

The owners still have to keep the contracts. And the buyout issue would probably depend on the contract.

Hendry: Sale is done. Ricketts taking over. More Money! First priority: contract extensions for Soriano, Bradley and Samardzija.

or maybe a contract extension for Hendry himself

And a high dollar "Whooing" to bring Andy McFail back into the fold!

AZ Phil, maybe you know the answer. I found this on the Boise website, regarding minor leaguers' long summers away from home:

http://boise.hawks.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=2...

Outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha thinks about his family every day that he suits up for the Hawks.

"I really miss my parents, my brother and my friends," said Ha. "I talk to them every day on the phone."

But Ha knows that his time in Boise will pay off in the long run.

"I have a plan," said Ha. "I will do my best this season and next season I will go home and play in Korea because my family is there."

Ha won't return as soon as his minor league season is over, however. After the season ends, he will head to Mesa for running camp for about a month. He won't make it back home until late October.

So Jae-Hoon Ha plans to play a season at Boise then go back to Korea for a year? Or is he referring to winter league ball in Korea (if there is such a thing)?

Winters in South Korea are pretty much like winters in Illinois. Darn cold in the northern part, a little bit milder in the southern part. But I doubt that there is much winter ball played there.

Sounds like a homesick kid talking off the cuff.

It could also be that he's referring to playing in an international tournament for Korea... not the Olympics, though.

If Ha doesn't report to training camp nex't spring will they put him on the reserved list? Will they release him and ask for his signing bonus to be returned? I thought they "own" a players' rights for 7 years. Does he have the freedom to play in Korea without paying a huge price?

Submitted by Q-Ball on Mon, 07/06/2009 - 9:20am.
AZ Phil, with your post I was thinking about Independent League signings that panned out for us. I thought of Joe Borowski as one right away, any others that I am missing?

Are there any prospects we have that look pretty good that were Independent League signings?

Amazing thing about Borowski, he wasn't exactly tearing up Newark when we signed him, had a 5.50 ERA and 1.617 WHIP; guess our scouts saw something there.

==========================================

Q-BALL: The Cubs have acquired probably about a dozen guys out of indy ball over the past few years, including RHP Joe Borowski, RHP Jermaine Van Buren, INF Aaron Sisk, LHP Issac Pavlik, RHP Ryan Bicondoa, INF Jake Whitesides, 1B Jesse Hoorelbeke, INF Andrew Lane, SS Albenis Machado, RHP Dumas Garcia, RHP Tanner Watson, RHP Vince Perkins, and C Shawn McGill, and now RHP AuStin Biebens-Dirkx. The best one was Borowski, but Van Buren pitched in the big leagues, too.

Perkins has had himself a decent year out of the pen for us. A nice signing, and one I really liked, considering how highly touted he was coming up with the Blue Jays. Still has the same control issues, but the stuff seems like it hasn't really regressed. Only 28, I think he could perhaps still see the bigs in a middle relief role, although with our plethora of righty middle relief types, I'd venture it'd be with someone else.

Living in Philly, the Camden (New Jersey) Riversharks play just across the river and are fun to watch. They've had a number of ex-Cubs (as well as Jose Lima, who played with them last year) and I got to see former not-really prospect Chris Walker play earlier this summer.

I knew these dudes weren't paid that well but...$ 1,000 a month? Dang.

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  • ...and the Bryant RBI jinx continues in the 3rd....crap.

    billybucks 1 hour 15 min ago view
  • bryant's in the dugout filling a police report BECAUSE HE JUST GOT ROBBED.

    f'n cabrerra...

    crunch 1 hour 52 min ago view
  • chapman showing up and available tomorrow night.

    i'm sure he'll be a bit hit. hope he doesn't choke. dude has a rifle for an arm. he'll add a bit of punch to the bullpen.

    crunch 1 hour 53 min ago view
  • the 'crosstown classic' sure has lost it's magic with interleague. the excitement level is barely noticable...maybe it's a bit more hype in the city, itself.

    crunch 1 hour 58 min ago view
  • Well he didn't leave a mark so its not that bad.

    Fuck that.

    Facts:

    He choked her.

    Her brother tackled him to separate him.

    He cooled off by shooting his gun in the garage.

    I don't have to like him on the team I follow.

    And you are others are free to not give a shit about his personal misgivings if you so choose as well.

     

     

    Rob G. 2 hours 17 min ago view
  • Sure, no marks and some inconsistencies in the witness's statements. But firing your gun into garage wall immediately after an argument and punching out your car window is still threatening and out of control behavior. There was certainly enough for MLB to think it warranted a 30-game suspension.

    Charlie 3 hours 28 min ago view
  • I'd prefer they be flexible with the closing situation depending on matchups. You're not really adding a lefty reliever if you use him strictly as a closer.

    Charlie 3 hours 28 min ago view
  • Stockpiling young talent isn't only for trading for someone like Chapman though. Even with an elite closer winning the World Series is basically a crap shoot so the key is to get to the playoffs as much as possible and not just mortgage everything on one year. Once you get there an elite bullpen certainly helps but the playoffs can be won by one hitter or starting pitcher getting hot (Murphy, Molina, Baumgardner) and a closer might not be able to stop that.

    johann 3 hours 53 min ago view
  • I'm also not crazy about press convictions. As the police report noted, there were no marks on the lady in question. There's a TMZ link (of course) to her police pictures, as well.

    I think the only way this trade goes real bad is if Cubbery intervenes and Chapman is suddenly bad for some reason.

    Old and Blue 3 hours 56 min ago view
  • I am right there with you closing in on 60.

    I don't care that much about "mortgaging" one player who is not only blocked by two guys, but is not ready to hit the majors for at least a couple years.

    There is no reason why this team, this year, can't have a real shot at something NONE of us have experienced.

    Further, I don't feel that even if they fall short that they have ruined their farm system.

    I have made my opinion clear here, with others, Warren was shit on the Cubs save one spot start.

    The E-Man 5 hours 26 min ago view
  • Trading for Warren, Warren sucking, getting Warren back for Chapman plus 3 prospects, sounds like Revenge of The Yankees on the former Boston executive. Old rivalries never die.

    I pray to the heavens above Chapman doesn't suck for some reason, or he'll be booed out of town faster than a Todd Hundley revival meeting.

    Old and Blue 5 hours 33 min ago view
  • I'm kind of nostalgic for the Schwarber-for-Miller rumors.

    Brick 5 hours 45 min ago view
  • This offseason, after some ridiculous playoff run and Chapman saving every game from here until the end of the postseason striking out 27/9innings, I welcome anyone to quote this thread and call me a dummy: I hate this trade, and my hate is 2 parts Chapman makes this team less likeable and 1 part that's a ridiculous overpay for 30 regular season innings and, at tops, 10 postseason innings. Already hoping they don't extend him.

    Charlie 5 hours 47 min ago view
  • btw...Thanks AZ Phil. I'm really enjoying your take on this trade.

    Cubster 6 hours 9 min ago view
  • I'm a bit disappointed on the Warren experience. Essentially they gave Castro away for crickets (OK, well they signed Zobrist with the Castro salary dump). Otherwise one might look at it as Chapman for Castro and our #1 minors prospect (Torres) + McKinney/Crawford. Seems pricey for a 2 month rental. We will see if this price tag is that steep in a relative way based on the remaining deadline deals for relievers.

    Cubster 6 hours 10 min ago view
  • Yep. One of the great things about this team (in addition to being really good at baseball) was the "likable" factor. Feels a bit different now. Who knows...maybe Chapman will be the king of the dance parties.

    billybucks 6 hours 18 min ago view