In the last two drafts, the Chicago Cubs have managed to snag the best college bats available. In 2013, they chose San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant with the second-overall pick, and he is now abusing baseballs in the major leagues. Last year, they took Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber with the fourth-overall selection, and all he has done is put up a .336/.435/.612 slash line over 530 plate appearances across four levels.
They may have done it again this year in selecting Ian Happ, a switch-hitting outfielder from the university of Cincinnati, with the ninth-overall selection in the 2015 MLB draft. At 6’-0” and 205 pounds, Happ has excellent bat speed and can flat out rake to all fields. He should hit for a high average and he showed more power this spring, hitting .369/.492/.672 over 56 games with 18 doubles and 14 home runs. He also shows a mature approach at the plate and drew a silly 49 walks. Happ has above-average speed but needs to work on his base-running skills as he was just 12-for-20 in stolen base attempts this spring.
The Cubs love guys with proven track records, and Happ fits that bill. As a freshman, he hit .322/.451/.483 over 56 games with six home runs, 25 stolen bases and a whopping 47 walks to 32 strikeouts. He was then named a Cape Cod League All-Star by hitting .293/.359/.469 over 39 games with five home runs and 13 stolen bases, drawing rave reviews from scouts for his all-around play and IQ for the game. He put up nearly identical numbers in his sophomore year as he did his freshman year, hitting .322/.443/.497 through 51 games with 13 doubles, five home runs and 19 stolen bases.
There aren’t any questions about his ability on offense. He should be a middle-of-the-order run producer at the next level. He is also a high-character kid, which is something the current front office takes seriously. The one concern is where he will play. If he can play second base, and many doubt that he can stick there, his value goes way up as he would be one of the better offensive second basemen in the game. Most believe he can’t stick in center field either, and his arm isn’t ideal for right field. As a left fielder, there is a lot of pressure on the bat. Plus, there is a chance Schwarber or Bryant could still end up there. But Theo Epstein and company have proved very smart when it comes to the draft, so I am sure they took all of this into consideration when evaluating Happ.
For my money, Happ was the best available player on the board and a kid I have seen as a target for the Cubs since last season. He adds to a ridiculous amount of offensive prospects the organization has compiled in a very short amount of time. The Cubs next selection is later tonight at pick 47, and I anticipate them adding another stud to the farm.
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