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





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



Bridgeport Bluefish:
OF Adam Greenberg
1B Brandon Sing

Long Island Ducks:
INF Kyle Reynolds

Camden RiverHawks:
LHP Chris Shaver
OF Chris Walker



Sioux City Express:
1B Luis Bautista

Ft. Worth Cats:
LHP Taylor Parker



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.


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.

"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.

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.


“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.


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:

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.

Recent comments

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  • i dont know what order they'll be in, but i pretty much expect fowler/schwarb/rizzo/bryant/montero/castro/lastella/arrieta. any change at all (aside from the first 4 guys) wouldn't shock me, though. coghlan is still a wildcard in the lineup joe could always march d.ross out there with very slow arrieta pitching.

  • Yup. Have to agree. Baseball, like golf, certainly has that psych component for the player. There is no real reason why a fielding position should affect a batting average. The Cubs are 106 years over due for a little luck. Don't you guys think so? Maybe the rookies can bring some dumb luck on.

  • probably stacking capable lefties vs cole while keeping the "hot" castro in the game. fwiw, he's 1-6 lifetime with 0 bb/k vs cole (double).

    i chalk bryant's issues at the plate while playing OF up to coincidence so far.

  • I will call your dead horse, "Trigger".

    In one game, when anything is possble, I am glad that Joe Maddon is our Manager.

    He knows the stats better than all of us. It would seem, IF La Stella gets the start at 3B, it will be only up to the point that they were to get the lead (crosses fingers). From everything I have read, the game will be managed like a hoops game: offense/defense. So expect La Stella to be out of the game by the 5th. This team is incredibly deep which is so surprising. We never woulda thunk it.

  • i don't know what their roster plans are, but j.herrera is out there practicing with the team.

    i can't imagine him making any roster, though. dude had 4 PA the entire month of sept. him being a good dude to be around while keeping the clubhouse loose seems to be his main role at this point.

  • I know it's my own personal dead horse to beat --but Bryant has been a lousy hitter when playing the OF this year. Given that it's his first playoff game, I really hope they keep him in his natural position and don't mess with his routine.

    Lousy as in 8-for-45 with one XBH and no HR. Small sample and all that -- but why take the chance?

  • hard to tell what's up given they'll probably want to stack as many good lefties into the lineup as possible.

    castro being a bit hot doesn't help things. if he was still cool they'd probably stick la stella at 2nd and call it a day.

  • Madden won't announce lineups but Stella is practicing at 3rd and Bryant in LF today. I'd rather see Bryant at 3rd but I guess Stella has been hotter than Coghlan.

    /edit. Though I guess they could be practicing this with the idea Stella would come in as a PH then double switch him to 3rd base and Bryant to LF. Hope that's the plan instead

  • I really like the sound of that idea about expanding the AFL to ten teams. Each org. gets to field more players.
    They should do that anyway, regardless of Adv. Instructs.

  • Dallas Beeler, Corey Black, David Garner, Pierce Johnson, Steve Perakslis, James Pugliese, Duane Underwood Jr, and Rob Zastryzny threw early-morning bullpen side-sessions at Riverview yesterday.  

    Underwood threw last, and received specific one-on-one instruction from pitching coach Mike Mason. 

  • HAGSAG: There are only five advanced instructs squads left, and presently the only "co-op" team operating is the Angels/Cubs.

    The league was originally established as a "parallel" league to the AFL (a sort of "junior AFL"), for players too advanced for traditional ("basic") instructs but who were unable to get placed on AFL rosters due to AFL player-limits.

  • He is but I would think it'd be better to start out with offense and then bring in Jackson and LaStella once they have a lead. Stella has very good PH #s too.

  • most likely cost sharing + the league is short on players anyway. not many teams are chipping in on 'advanced instructional.'

  • I'm glad this is a one game playoff coming up, because McCutchen is one of my favorite MLB players. And as a baseball fan, I rather like the Pirates. I hope we beat them bad, of course. No mixed feelings here. And, I don't want a nail biter. Too old for that shit. The team of moran fans is easy to hate, though, and more suitable for a longer series.

  • A Jurickson Profar sighting!!!!???

  • I'd guess Jackson over Coghlan for the defense.

    EDIT: Now that I think about it, is Jackson a better defender?