The Cubs selected Ian Happ, a switch-hitting outfielder from the University of Cincinnati with the ninth pick in the MLB first-year player draft. Happ has also played some second base. Once again, the Cubs take the best college bat available when it was their turn to draft. as they did with Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber. All three also came from non-traditional baseball schools.
Happ came on the radar of the scouts in 2013 when he had a stellar season in the Cape Cod League. For this past season at Cincinnati, Happ hit .369 with 18 doubles and 14 home runs. His on-base percentage was .492. He led the American Athletic conference in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, despite having hernia surgery in the off-season. He also did this for a pretty poor Cincinnati lineup filled with freshmen, so he had to carry the Bearcats offense pretty much by himself.
Here's some video of Happ.
And a little more video of Happ.
ESPN.com's Keith Law is a big fan of Happ, calling him "a sweet-swinging switch hitter with above-average hit and power potential." He ranked him as the seventh-best prospect in the draft and in an online chat today, admitted there was some validity to a Chase Utley comp. Law also thinks that Happ can play second base in the majors. He is a little concerned about his ability to hit from the right side of the plate.
Other scouting reports are not quite as glowing, but it's hard to find anyone who doesn't like him. Baseball America ranked him as the 24th best prospect coming into the draft. They also liked his bat which they described as "excellent bat speed from both batters' boxes. He projects as a plus hitter with average power, and he's an above-average runner, though he needs refinement on the bases." They are, however, less optimistic about his ability to play anywhere but left field.
There are lots of scouting reports somewhere in between those two, but the one thing that everyone agrees on is that he's an "advanced bat" who should move quickly through the system and that he has good on-base skills. This perfectly fits the profile of players the Cubs have been drafting in the first round round under Theo Epstein.
He also apparently has serious livestock skills.
So a big welcome to the Cubs family goes out to Ian Happ. My guess is that he will play in South Bend sometime this summer, so Chicago-area fans will have another reason to drive out there and see the SB Cubs.