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/15653/20090706/braun_calls_out_milwaukees_pitching_staff/

<i>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."</i> 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. <i>jacos: Hey get off our ledge!!</i> 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.

<blockquote> <br /> <p> <i><b>DL</b>: Samardzija has less pitching experience than most college signs, while Huseby has had <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/dt/johnto01.shtml">Tommy John</a></span> 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?</i> </p> <p> <i><b>TW</b>: 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, <b>one of the best in the whole draft.</b></i> </p> </blockquote> <p> and... </p> <blockquote> <p> <span class="storybody"><i>“He’s got a chance to be a<b> front-line pitcher and top-of-the-order guy.</b> 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.”</i>  </span> </p> </blockquote>

"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--"<b>has a chance</b> to be a power pitcher <b>that could be</b> 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: <blockquote> “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.” </blockquote>

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~

<p> follows up 2 near no-hitters by giving up 7 runs in 2/3 of an inning of work... </p> <p> thanks for the update AZ Phil... </p>

http://www.reuters.com/article/mergersNews/idUSN0626049920090706

Here's the original source http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2009/07/cubs-sales-deal-finalized.html

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>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> 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=20090701&content_id=5647072&vkey=news_t480&fext=.jsp&sid=t480 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.<br /> 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?</p><p> Are there any prospects we have that look pretty good that were Independent League signings?</p><p> 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.</p></p> ==========================================</p><p> 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.

Recent comments

The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • JOHN B: Pierce Johnson and Rob Zastryzny were likely 2015 AFL candidates (I mentioned them as likely candidates to get assigned to the AFL in an article about the AFL last month) because they are starting pitchers who missed part of the season due to injuries and they need to accrue more innings.
  • Also - what did Bosio say when we went to talk to Rondon? "OK, Hector, tie game, 9th inning, 2 outs, 2-0 count on the hottest hitter in the game. Let's try the ol' fastball right down the middle and see how that works, hmmm?" Terrible pitch. I've never been a fan of using closers in non-save situations -- they are used to pitching with adrenaline pumping and celebrating the last out of the inning. I realize it was a a swinging bunt and an error that caused the problem, but that may have been the worst pitch I have seen Rondon throw in a long time.
  • Ugly series save a few clutch Homeruns. 2 first inning Homeruns allowed. 2 complete innings (out of 27) with a lead (8th and 9th game 2). 6 Leads/Ties given up top half of the inning after scoring. 9 9th inning unearned runs. Brutal roadtrip coming up while SF plays 22 straight against teams with losing records. Like the Cubs odds, obviously, but long way to go.
  • No more f'n Pajama Parties, Joe! Losing a series at home to the Reds (who have a worse record than the Brewers) in September is not what we are looking for, gentlemen. 3 series losses in a row -- let's get that fixed immediately. Bad error by KB as Crunch describes -- almost like he was surprised the ball was hit to him. I think if he makes that play we win the game.
  • solid smack to him...right through his legs. he wasn't even in motion, totally stationary. no bad bounce, either. it was hit very hard, but also squarely wiffed...not even any glove contact. it happens...not a good time for it to happen with 2 outs, though. that was the inning ender, easy.
  • Can someone tell me about Bryant's error who saw the play? You cannot give the Reds (or most teams) 4 outs. In this case with Joey Votto coming up.
  • un...fucking...believable... tie a game in the bottom 8th, give up 3 runs in the top 9th...why the hell not. awesome.
  • DAT TIE THO.
  • Ugh Hammel...the new Haren. The 3-5 starters have imploded and killed yet another series.
  • Just about to type the same thing.....Augh!
  • 5 times in the last 3 games, Cubs have taken the lead or tied the game in the bottom half, only to give up runs in the top half.
  • <p>I'd like to see stats on opposing pitcher batting average. It's probably not real, but seems like we give up hits all the time to f-ing pitchers.&nbsp;</p>
  • Tony Four Sacks # 27
  • Hammel has k'd Votto twice. /baseball
  • Sore Ribs doesn't worry me too much. Getting a "precautionary MRI" has me assuming he is going to be out at least a few days, possibly more.