Cubs Add Three to 40-man Roster
The Cubs have added three players to their MLB Reserve List (40-man roster), one day in advance of the November 20th deadline that requires MLB clubs to submit major league and minor league reserve lists to the MLB office. .
Notably absent from the list are LHP Donald Veal (the Cubs 2005 2nd round pick) and 2B Nate Spears (acquired along with two other prospects from the Baltimore Orioles in January 2006 for OF Corey Patterson), meaning both will be eligible for selection in next month's Rule 5 Draft. And I would say that it's very likely that Veal will get selected, and somewhat likely that Spears will be, too.
A North Carolina native, Atkins checks in at 6'3/220, and he just turned 23 last month. He was the Cubs 7th round selection in the 2004 Rule 4 Draft (1st Year Player Draft) out of Northeast Guilford HS in McLeansville, NC (he was signed by legendary Cubs Area Scout Billy Swoope), and he had signed an NLI to attend Elon University before opting to sign with the Cubs. Atkins has progressed steadily through the Cubs system over the past five seasons, reaching AAA Iowa via a mid-season promotion in 2008. He went 17-7 with a combined 4.00 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, allowing 155 H, 87 R (73 ER), 50/132 BB/K, and 25 HR in 164.1 IP (28 GS) with AA Tennessee and AAA Iowa in 2008. Atkins doesn't throw particularly hard, but he really "knows how to pitch." He has a full array of pitches, including a very effective cutter. He probably projects as a "back-of-the-rotation" MLB starter at this point.
The 24-year old Berg is a native of Antigo, WI, and was acquired by the Cubs from the Yankees in August 2005 in exchange for veteran OF Matt Lawton. A 6'3 230-pound sinker-baller, Berg was originally drafted by the Yankees in the 43rd round of the 2003 Rule 4 Draft out of Indian Hills CC in Iowa, but was signed as a "Draft & Follow" in May 2004 (just days prior to the June Draft) after spending his sophomore year at Triton CC in River Grove, IL. He was set to transfer to the University of Iowa for his junior year before opting to turn pro. The fact that the Cubs acquired Berg in a trade just a year after he signed with the Yankees probably is an indication that the Cubs had planned to draft him back in 2004 if he hadn't signed as a "DNF" with the Yanks. Berg has similar stuff as Jeff Samardzija (power sinker and slider), but has struggled mightily with his command throughout most of his career. Like Atkins, Berg split the 2008 sesaon between AA and AAA, and he was supposed to pitch for the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League post-2008 (he pitched in the AFL last year, too), but plans were changed at the last minute, and he ended up in the Venezuelan Winter League instead. Basically a "two-pitch pitcher," Berg will probably be moved to the bullpen in the near future to take full advantage of his hard stuff. He really needs to work on his command, but if he can get that straightened out (as Samardzija appears to have done), he could possibly make it to the big leagues as a reliever.
Marcos Mateo is the cousin of ex-Cubs RHP Juan Mateo. A native of the Dominican Republic, the 6'1 ,160-pound Marcos Mateo was acquired from Cincinnati in September 2007 as the PTBNL in an earlier deal where the Cubs sent OF Buck Coats to the Reds, so 2008 was his first season in the Cubs organization (he did pitch in the AZ Instructional League with the Cubs post-2007, however). He will turn 25 next April. Like his older cousin, Marcos Mateo's best pitch is an outstanding slider, but he also has a fastball with some life on it, and he supposedly developed a change-up in 2008 when he was moved to the starting rotation after a promotion from Peoria to Daytona. But unless the change-up is of big league quality, his future is probably MLB middle-relief.