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.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17, and his fastbball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.
PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.
Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?
Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.
Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.
Don't mean to spoil your mood, but with tonight's win the are 3-5 on the trip with one to play.
While I'm bringing the room down -- Richard comes in to pitch the 9th with a 12-1 lead...and can't finish the game. Woof.
For some reason