How much is enough? The Chicago Cubs are already loaded with elite young hitters and have a surplus at second base a season after winning the World Series. But here comes Ian Happ.
Happ, 22, was the franchise’s first-round pick (ninth overall) in 2015 and didn’t play above the Double-A level last season. But he is making quite an impression in Cactus League camp thus far.
He homered Monday for the third time in the past four games, during which time he is 9-for-11 overall. On Friday, he fell a triple short of the cycle.
And he’s doing it while continuing his transition from the outfield to second base.
“It’s becoming natural,” Happ told MLB.com about playing second. “All the work last year and all the [repetitions] coming into this year — I’m still working and trying to get better every day, but it’s become my position, it’s become pretty natural to go out there every day and field ground balls. It feels great.”
Although he is getting some valuable experience with the major-league club this spring, Happ will head to the minors before camp breaks.
“When you talk to the guy, he’s one of those younger players who believes he belongs here,” manager Joe Maddon told MLB.com. “He’s definitely a Major League player in waiting and his time will come.”
Happ, who hit .279/.365/.445 with 15 homers and 73 RBI between Single-A and Double-A in 2016, appears to be on the fast track to joining the Javier Baez-Ben Zobrist conversation at second base in Chicago. As if the World Series champions need more depth and offense.