Ian Happ is making the switch from the outfielder to full-time second baseman. The Cubs’ plan with Happ after he was drafted was to move him to second base. The Cubs started the transition during Fall Instructs and he’s making steady improvement this spring.
The Cubs feel Happ’s bat is ready for the Carolina League but have not committed starting his season with High-A Myrtle Beach. Happ may begin the year back at Low-A South Bend to continue working on his defense.
Happ should start his first full-season in professional baseball as Gleyber Torres’ double play partner with the Pelicans if he’s able to take the necessary steps in his development this spring.
Baseball America’ Top Five Second Base Prospects: Yoan Moncada (Red Sox), Jose Peraza (Reds), Ian Happ (Cubs), Brandon Drury (Diamondbacks) and Alex Hanson (Pirates)
The Cubs’ plan for Ian Happ last summer following the draft was to have him just play the outfield and adjust to life in pro ball. Happ did a good job with the bat at two stops in the Cubs system.
Happ batted .283/.408/.491 in 29 games for Short-Season Eugene. Happ was 30-for-106 with close to half his hits going for extra bases. Happ had eight doubles, a triple and four home runs for a .898 OPS. Happ walked 23 times with 28 strikeouts in 130 plate appearances.
The Cubs bumped Happ up to Low-A South Bend. Happ played the last 38 games of his season with the SB Cubs and batted .241/.315/.448 with nine doubles, three triples and five home runs for a .763 OPS. Happ was 35-for-145, again close to half of his hits went for extra bases.
Against left handed pitching in South Bend, Happ batted .188/.200/.344 (6-for-32) and against right handers, Happ hit .257/.346/.478 with seven doubles, three triples and four home runs for a .824 OPS.
Ian Happ finished his first taste of pro ball with a .259/.356/.466 slash line that included 17 doubles, four triples and nine home runs for a .822 OPS. Happ worked 40 free passes with 67 strikeouts in 295 plate appearances.
With Ben Zobrist under contract for the next four seasons, the Cubs will not have to rush Ian Happ to the big leagues. Happ will be able to develop as a second baseman, plus his ability to play all three spots in the outfield makes him a versatile player that every team values.