The Chicago Cubs clearly believe in taking college hitters in the first round of the draft. They took Kris Bryant with their first pick in 2013, then took Kyle Schwarber the next year in 2014.
Both picks have worked out in a huge way, so why not take another experienced college hitter in the first round again in 2015?
Since selecting Second basemen Ian Happ ninth overall in the 2015 amateur draft, he has done nothing but impress. Happ began his professional career last summer, logging 38 games for the South Bend Cubs.
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It didn’t take long for both Bryant and Schwarber to make their big league debuts. Bryant spent just under two years in the minors before making his debut in April of 2015. He eventually ended up winning rookie of the year in the National League.
Schwarber was selected by the Cubs in the first round in 2014 and fast-tracked to the big leagues in a hurry. He absolute wore out minor league pitching through only one season in the ranks. Schwarber hit .333 through 147 minor league games, cranking 34 home runs in the process. He would make his major league debut just over a year from the day he was drafted.
Although Schwarber is hurt, both him and Bryant have made a big impact on the Cubs lineup. Schwarber absolutely raked last year during the postseason, while Bryant has been a huge part of the team this year, and last.
Ian Happ is a typical Cubs player. The Cubs first round pick boasts the athleticism to play several positions, which we know is an asset of many Cubs players. While He’s originally a second baseman, Happ has played some outfield during his minor league career.
Happ is a switch hitter who has lightning quick hands and has the potential to hit for a high average at the big league level. The Cubs have a knack for drafting exceptional athletes, which has played a role in their success this season.
The one thing that stands out like a sore thumb to me is his ability to get on base. His on-base percentage between two levels this year (High-A and Double-A) is .365. He has great plate coverage and has a great idea of how to swing the bat. The Pittsburgh native draws a fair amount of walks, which allows his speed to play.
He doesn’t possess power like Schwarber and Bryant but does have pop at times. Through 134 games this season, Happ went deep 15 times.
From a defensive standpoint, he has an extremely strong arm but lacks fluid fielding mechanics at second base. A move to the outfield at the big league level could almost certainly be in the mix. That’s exactly what the Cubs did with Kyle Schwarber.
To save his impact bat, they moved him to the outfield rather than wear him out behind the plate. Happ has the same kind of impact at the plate, and you could see the Cubs do the same kind of thing with him.
Just like the 22-year-old did in college at the University of Cincinnati, Happ has the ability to change the game with a variety of his tools. Speed, pop, hitting for average, getting on base, you name it.
The Cubs aren’t at a point right now where they don’t need Happ, though.
But according to MLB Pipeline, you could see him in the majors by 2018. He’s only 22 years old, so he still has lots of time to evolve and rack up more at-bats in the minors.