Happ has torn up the minor leagues since he was drafted out of the University of Cincinnati, as the last bit of fruit from the dreaful rebuilding period. His performance earned him a non-roster invitation to his first MLB Spring Training camp this past February and let's just say that he turned some heads. During his time with the big club, Ian posted an eye-popping .417/.473/.813 slash line with an incredible 1.286 OPS, four doubles and five homers. Despite having only briefly tasted AA in the preceeding season, murmurs of him breaking camp with the Cubs were heard and he earned an aggressive promotion to AAA Iowa.
Once the minor league season began, Happ's momentum carried him through to a phenomenal start, smacking nine more big flies in his first 26 games. There was almost no doubt that we'd see the 22-year old in the Majors at some point this year - his bat has proven to be more than ready. That said, I don't think anyone expected his debut to come before the All-Star Break,
For one, Happ's defense at second base is still a work in progress and, accordingly, the franchise has been working him in the outfield positions, in hopes of speeding up his development. Long term, there's a possibility that he develops into a Ben Zobrist-type super utility player; but, for now, he'll be roaming Major League outfields.
You see, Happ's timeline was sped up by the spate of injuries affecting the roster of the Chicago Cubs. Right fielder Jason Heyward was just placed on the 10-day disabled list with a thumb injury and center fielder Jon Jay was removed from last night's contest in St. Louis with back spasms. Additionally, first replacement right fielder Kris Bryant has been battling illness and Addison Russell has been kept off of the infield by shoulder soreness. Thus, suddenly, the Cubs found themselves with a nearly empty bench, in the middle of a key series with their biggest divisional rival.
I figured that the call-up of a spare infielder was imminent when Jay's recurring back issues popped up last night; however, I figured that this might be John Andreoli's long awaited first chance in the Major Leagues. But, with the offense reeling as of late, the club appears to be hoping that Happ's bat can inject some life into the lineup, from right field. At any rate, I'm excited to be adding the above cracked ice parallel from 2016 Bowman Platinum (courtesy of JediJeff, of 2x3 Heroes fame) into my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection binder.
I'll bet that Joe Maddon was excited to be adding Happ's name to the all-time roster as well, seeing as his name was immediately inserted into the starting nine for today's tilt with the Redbirds:
Five of these guys were not on the active roster a year ago. None of the 5 has played a full big-league season yet. pic.twitter.com/XBiQz2n4ME— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) May 13, 2017
That's an interesting note by Cubs' beat reporter, Gordon Wittenmyer; also of note, on this active, 25-man roster, you will find the team's last five first round draft selections. Those dreamy, projective lineups that everyone drools over on forums across the internet? One of them has actually come to life.
You're simply not supposed to be this successful in the draft selection - it's really quite incredible. The waves and waves of talent that were so often talked about are more like tsunamis of ability.
As I type up this post, Ian Happ has officially put his name into the Major League portion of Baseball-Reference.com, striking out in his first official at-bat. Welcome to the Big Leagues, kid! here's hoping he makes the next few at-bats a little more notable, maybe even Topps Now worthy.
It's Happ-ening, folks!