Photo by News Bulletin staff.
Affiliation agreement with Kane County Cougars now official
The Kane County Cougars confirmed last week that they'll become a Chicago Cubs Class A baseball affiliate.
The Cubs and Cougars announced the signing of a two-year player development contract last Wednesday.
The agreement does not affect the ownership, management or front office staff of the Cougars in any manner as the Cougars organization looks towards Thursday, April 4 2013 – Opening Night at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, and the first home game featuring the new affiliation with the Cubs.
"We are extremely excited about our new relationship with the Chicago Cubs,” said Cougars General Manager Curtis Haug. "The close proximity between both organizations will be mutually beneficial in numerous ways. We believe that the Cubs organization and their philosophies about the minor leagues, including scouting, player development, and involvement in the community, are a fantastic fit for our franchise.”
"The decision to change affiliation is never an easy one, particularly after a tremendous two-year relationship with the Kansas City Royals," Haug added. "Both on and off the field, Royals front office staff and coaches were the epitome of class, and the players represented the Cougars with professionalism throughout our affiliation."
The arrival of (President, Baseball Operations) Theo Epstein, (General Manager) Jed Hoyer and (Senior VP of Scouting/Player Development) Jason McLeod has brought a renewed sense of optimism to the Cubs organization within the past year.
Kane County Cougars work out earlier this season at Fifth-Third Bank Ballpark. The new affiliation with the Chicago Cubs won't change the organization and team operation. Photo by News Bulletin staff.
Prospects such as Anthony Rizzo, Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters, along with a plethora of other prospects throughout the Cubs farm system, have strengthened the organization as having one of the deepest and most prospect-laden farm systems in Major League Baseball.
"We are excited at the opportunity to work with the Kane County franchise,” said Cubs Senior Vice President of Scouting/Player Development Jason McLeod. "The benefits of having one of our minor league clubs this close to Chicago are numerous and we look forward to starting this new relationship.”
The history of the Cubs dates back to 1876. Several of the many Hall-of-Famers who spent all or most of their big league careers as Cubs include Hack Wilson, Mordecai Brown, Billy Williams, Ryne Sandberg, Fergie Jenkins, Ernie Banks and Ron Santo.
The Cougars organization, which began in 1991, has had at least one former player make a Major League debut in each season, dating back to 1993. The list includes Major League All-Stars, World Series champions and former Rookie of the Year, Golden Glove and Silver Slugger award winners.
Will there be a Cubs on-deck circle at Fifth-Third Bank Ballpark as at Wrigley Field (above). The Cougars are expected to maintain their identity even as they link with the Cubs. Photo by News Bulletin staff.
Through the 2012 season, more than 9.5 million fans have attended a Cougars game and the organization is anticipating its 10 millionth fan in 2013.
Among the 120 former Cougars who have reached the major leagues, two alumni made their big league debut with the Cubs (Roosevelt Brown on 5/18/99, and Ross Gload on 8/31/00...former Cougars who have logged time as a Cub during their big league career include Ryan Dempster (’96), Antonio Alfonseca (’94), Joe Borowski (’91), and Felix Heredia (’94)...a current Cub and former Cougar, Anthony Recker (’06) hit his first major league home run as a Cub earlier this month...the Cougars have played at Wrigley Field twice in franchise history: 2008 and 2010...some of the notable former Cubs who played at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark for a rehabilitation stint against the Cougars over the years include Aramis Ramirez, Reed Johnson, Carlos Silva, Jon Lieber and Angel Guzman.