Beset by injuries on their infield, specifically to shortstop Addison Russell and third baseman Kris Bryant, the Cubs reached into their farm system to grab another potentially high-impact bat in Ian Happ. Despite missing a little more than a week with a thumb injury, Happ was tied for second in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with nine home runs. Happ is expected to only be up for a short while, until the Cubs’ collective health clears up a bit.
Happ, whom the Cubs selected out of Cincinnati in the first round of the 2015 draft, was lauded for his offensive capabilities. So far, he’s zoomed through the minor leagues and proved the Cubs’ instincts correct along the way with a track record of hitting at every stop. In a 227-game minor league career, the 22-year-old switch-hitter has posted a line of .275/.362/.472. He will work deep counts, but will also strike out a bit. He also impressed evaluators last year in the Arizona Fall League and finished the season there with a two-homer game—one from each side of the plate—in the championship game. He ranked No. 55 on the most recent update of this year’s Top 100 Prospects.
So while there’s little question about Happ’s offensive ability, there long remained the predicament of where to play him. He’s played second base and in the outfield throughout his career, but he’s not an average defender anywhere on the diamond. He’s slated to play the outfield during this call-up, and has played 12 games in the outfield this year with Iowa, including six in center field. He was slated to play right field in his debut game in Chicago.
WHAT TO EXPECT
At full strength, the Cubs’ lineup is full of impactful, homegrown bats. With Happ in town, their fans will get a look at another player who soon could be counted among that group for the long-term.