#MLBPlayers411 | Ian Happ
Today's #MLBPlayers411 player, Ian Happ, is the latest addition to the Cubs' nucleus of young talent , joining Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, Willson Contreras, Javy Baez, Addison Russell, Carl Edwards Jr., and Albert Almora Jr. on the defending World Series champions. The switch-hitting 22-year-old, who has learned to play second base and the outfield, has the skill level to make a difference, too.
Despite being in the majors for a little under a month, the Cubs' prospect has already capitalized on opportunities, particularly against the rival St. Louis Cardinals. In his major league debut on May 13, Ian hit his first-career home run in his first big-league at bat.
This past Sunday, Ian had his best game in the majors to date, clubbing two home runs against the Red Birds. Ian gave the Cubs an early lead, hooking one inside the right field foul pole in the third inning. After the Cardinals tied the game in the fourth inning, Ian hit his second long ball in as many innings to give the Cubs the lead again. After the 7-6 Cubs win, the rookie was humble about his good fortune.
‘‘Whatever it takes for me to help this team is the way I figure it,'' Happ said. ‘‘You have to be as complete a player as you can if you want to be here.''
But his manager, Joe Maddon, had high praise for Happ.
“The guy's got tools, man,” Maddon said. “He's got tools and he's got a good baseball mind. Yeah, he's gonna strike out and yeah he's gonna look bad sometimes, but man, when it all comes together, you're really gonna enjoy it.”
The Pittsburgh native began developing those tools at Mt. Lebanon High School, where he hit .449 as a shortstop. Following graduation, Ian starred for the University of Cincinnati where he was known for his reliability as well as his skill. As a freshman, Ian started all 56 games, and as a sophomore, he started 50 out of 51 games. As a junior he hit .369/.492/.672 with 14 home runs and 44 RBIs. Oh, and you guessed it … he played in all 56 games.
After his junior season, Ian became the Cubs first-round selection and was ranked the third-best prospect in the Cubs system by MLB.com. With Addison Russell firmly entrenched at shortstop, Ian spent 2015 and 2016 rising through the farm system at second base and occasionally in the outfield. In just two years, Ian rose from Class-A Eugene to Triple-A Iowa, where he started the 2017 season.
The defending World Series champions, currently 28-27, are hoping Ian can help provide a spark to help get the team rolling again.
To see more photos of Ian click here.