The Chicago Cubs’ number two prospect has had quite the season at Triple-A Iowa. A rash of injuries, not his play, is what lead to an Ian Happ debut. That’s not to say his performance didn’t warrant such a move. The club had their fun with the fans on Twitter for a while about the speculated move before releasing today’s lineup against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Anything interesting happening this afternoon? pic.twitter.com/pkmgHnfdRN
Ian Happ Debut A Solid One
The 22-year-old second baseman and outfielder has always been a hitter. With the Triple-A Iowa Cubs he was showcasing his plus hit tool, slashing .298/.362/.615. Coming out of the University of Cincinnati in 2015, Happ was drafted ninth overall, following a nice .369 average and 14 home runs in his junior season. Named the preseason number 28 prospect in the game by MLB.com, he has climbed through the minor league system quickly. Now Happ is at the top, and he’s made the most of his first act in the the show.
Inserted second in the lineup behind Kyle Schwarber, Happ was tasked with taking over for third baseman and 2016 NL MVP Kris Bryant in his absence from the order. Not an easy task for a debut. The star third baseman will miss his second consecutive game due to illness.
In the Box
Happ saw five pitches in his second trip to the plate. Swinging and missing on an 0-0 breaking ball in the dirt, Happ drew a walk after four consecutive balls. Anthony Rizzo walked and moved him over to second base. A two out ground ball from Tommy La Stella to end the top of the third inning left him there.
The third at-bat came in the fifth inning. He reached on error with a 2-1 ground ball to first baseman Matt Carpenter, advancing Schwarber from first to third. A Rizzo ground ball up the middle had Happ out at second. Happ attempted to break up a potential double play and appeared successful until the controversial slide rule was applied, ending the inning with a double play anyway.
The Pennsylvania native’s first career hit came in the seventh inning. Carlos Martinez left a low 86 MPH changeup over the middle of the plate. Happ sent it over the right field fence, scoring Albert Almora jr. Happ’s mother can be happy about her son’s first hit coming on Mother’s Day weekend in the form of a first pitch, two-run dinger to cut the Cardinals lead to 3-5.
In the Field
Cubs manager Joe Maddon placed Happ in right field, a position he has manned in 23 professional games before his call up. He didn’t see any action until the bottom of the fourth inning. Happ picked up a shallow line drive base hit by Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. It was otherwise an uneventful day with the glove.
Scouts pegged Happ for a below-average fielder at second base, with his above-average arm and speed playing better in the outfield. It appears his time in Chicago will be spent roaming the storied Wrigley outfield for now while offering depth and versatility to the already impressively deep and versatile Cubs infield.
The Cubs dropped the second part of the three game series against the Cardinals, 3-5. The two teams will meet up again at Busch Stadium on Sunday night for the series finale.