The Cubs are converting Ian Happ to a full-time second baseman. MLB Pipeline is not sure how the move will work out defensively, but Happ can hit and his bat is what placed him, for now, behind the Red Sox’s Yoan Moncada and the Reds’ Jose Peraza on the list of the best second base prospects in the game.
Ian Happ has not played second base since his freshman year at the University of Cincinnati. Jonathan Mayo pointed out “it wasn’t pretty, so the jury is still out whether he can stick on the dirt or if he will have to move back to the outfield.”
It’s believed it will take Happ a little longer than Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, especially with the position change, to work his way through the system. Happ projects as a top of the order bat that can get on base from both sides of the plate.
MLB Pipeline’s Top 10 Second Basemen: Yoan Moncada (Red Sox), Jose Peraza (Reds), Ian Happ (Cubs), Forrest Wall (Rockies), Alex Blandino (Reds), Alen Hanson (Pirates), Micah Johnson (Dodgers), Tony Kemp (Astros), Rob Refsnyder (Yankees) and Scott Kingery (Phillies) … Next up: Ryan Brett (Rays) and Willie Calhoun (Dodgers).
Ian Happ made two stops in the system last season after the Cubs selected him with the ninth overall pick in the draft. Happ only played in the outfield, as planned, and started his conversion to second base in the fall.
Happ batted .283/.408/.491 in 29 games for Short-Season Eugene with eight doubles, a triple and four home runs for a .898 OPS. Happ walked 23 times with 28 strikeouts in 130 plate appearances. And nearly half of his first 30 hits in pro ball went for extra bases.
The Cubs bumped Happ up to South Bend to finish out the regular season. Happ played in 38 games for Low-A South Bend and hit .241/.315/.448 with a .763 OPS. Happ had nine doubles, three triples and five home runs. And in 165 plate appearances, Happ had 17 walks and 39 strikeouts. And just under half of Happ’s hits (35) went for extra bases (17).
For the season, Ian Happ batted .259/.356/.466 with 17 doubles, four triples and nine home runs for a .822 OPS. Thirty of Happ’s 65 hits were for extra bases and he walked 40 times with 67 strikeouts in 295 plate appearances.
The Cubs have the top catching prospect in the game (Willson Contreras) and third best second base prospect (Ian Happ), third base is next up for MLB Pipeline and it will be interesting to see where Jeimer Candelario lands on the list.