Published On: August 13th, 2009

Former Woodchuck Justin Berg Makes MLB Debut
25-Year Old Has Effective First Appearance with the Cubs

(CHICAGO, IL) Chicago Cubs right-handed pitcher Justin Berg made his Major League debut Thursday afternoon in the Cubs 6-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field. The former Wisconsin Woodchuck pitched the final two innings of relief for Chicago and didn’t allow a run. He gave up two hits and a walk and struck out one batter.

Berg climbed the ranks during six seasons in the minor leagues split between the Yankees’ and Cubs’ farm systems. While in Class A ball in August of 2005 he was traded from the Yankees to the Cubs straight-up for veteran Major League outfielder Matt Lawton. Berg made it to Double-A in 2007 and to Triple-A by 2008. He was called up to the Cubs briefly in late July of this year but didn’t appear in a game. The 25-year old is 6-1 with a 2.33 ERA in 30 relief appearances at Triple-A this season.

The 6’3″, 230 pound Berg joined the Wisconsin Woodchucks around the start of the second half of the Northwoods League season in 2003. He’s originally from Antigo, WI, which is about 35 miles northeast of Wausau. He made five starts during the regular season going 3-0 with a 1.87 ERA in 33 2/3 innings. Berg also started two postseason games for the Woodchucks that year going 0-0 with a 0.90 ERA allowing just one run in 10 innings. Wisconsin defeated the St. Cloud River Bats in three games to win the NWL Championship. Ben Zobrist (Rays) and Mark Lowe (Mariners) are the two other Major Leaguers from that Woodchucks team. In all, eight former Woodchucks have gone on to play in the big leagues.

The Yankees drafted Berg in the 43rd round in 2003 following his freshman season at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa. After his summer in the Northwoods League he transferred to Triton Junior College in Illinois for his sophomore year and signed with the Yankees as a draft-and-follow prior to the 2004 draft.

The Northwoods League plays more games than, draws more fans than, and plays in venues superior to any Summer Collegiate Baseball League in North America. To date, 57 of the NWL’s former players have gone on to play Major League Baseball.

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