#Cubs pick Ian Happ in 1st round of Draft
For the fifth straight season, the Cubs selected a position player in the first round, picking second baseman/outfielder Ian Happ from Cincinnati with the ninth pick overall in the First-Year Player Draft on Monday.
Happ, 20, batted .369 with 47 runs scored, 18 doubles, 14 home runs and 44 RBIs for the Bearcats this season. He compiled a .492 on-base percentage, and his .672 slugging mark gave him a 1.164 OPS. Happ led the American Athletic Conference (AAC) in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and tied for the lead in walks. Additionally, he led his team in runs, hits, doubles, home runs and RBI.
“Ian has proved to be one of the better performers in college baseball over the past couple of seasons,” said Jason McLeod, Cubs senior vice president of scouting and player development. “He’s a switch-hitter who hits for average and power while showing advanced plate discipline. We feel he’s athletic enough to play the infield or outfield.”
He played baseball at Mt. Lebanon High School in Pittsburgh, and batted .449 with 12 home runs and 65 RBIs. A switch-hitter, he played in the Cape Cod League after his freshman year, and followed that with a .322 average his sophomore season with the Bearcats. He again played in the Cape Cod League and Happ credited his time in that league with helping his game.
“Going up there, facing the best of the best in the country, it’s what you need to do to further your career,” Happ told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week. “You need to prove you can do it against the best.”
In his first year in the Cape Cod League, he batted .293 with 13 stolen bases and hit a double and a home run in the league’s all-star game.
College teams weren’t too interested in Happ when he was in high school, and his coach Patt McCloskey told the Post-Gazette that the outfielder was snubbed by the big schools.
“It motivated him so much that he had the best high school season I’ve ever seen from anyone, bar none, his senior year,” McCloskey said. “His records will never be touched around here.”
He learned the game from his father, Keith, and his older brother, Chris, who played at Duquesne from 2006-10.
Happ also got an assist from former big leaguer Sean Casey, who he met at Mt. Lebanon one day in high school. Casey recommended Happ go to college.
In the four previous Drafts, the Cubs have taken shortstop Javier Baez, outfielder Albert Almora, third baseman Kris Bryant and catcher Kyle Schwarber.
Happ was recommended by area scout Daniel Carte.
A semi-finalist for the 2015 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, Happ was recognized as the 2015 AAC Player of the Year, named First Team Academic All-American, Second Team Louisville Slugger All-American and was a unanimous first team All-Conference member as voted on by the league’s head coaches.
— Carrie Muskat