The Cubs No. 2 overall prospect and the 25th overall prospect in all of baseball, Ian Happ, is showing that he deserves to play at the big league level. He’s hitting .264 in AAA Iowa with six home runs in just 13 games. He proved in spring training that he has all the talent to compete at the big league level, hitting .417 in 24 Cactus league games. As we know, the Cubs big league roster is already stacked. You have Javier Baez and Ben Zobrist at second base, the primary position that Happ plays. Happ can also play outfield, but there isn’t any room out there for him, either. There’s Kyle Schwarber in left, Albert Almora and Jon Jay in center, and Jason Heyward or Zobrist in right. No matter how great Happ plays in Triple-A, I honestly don’t see a place for him on the Cubs roster in the long run.
This is what is the best solution for Ian Happ to get a shot on a big league roster.
I know the Cubs certainly do not want to trade their first pick in the 2015 draft. Personally, I believe he will get a call up this season and get some big league service time. But if we look at the future, where is there room for Ian Happ? The Cubs have such a young core on their roster. With Baez, Russell, Bryant, and Rizzo rounding out the infield, that doesn’t leave much room for the 22-year-old Happ.
I have no doubts that Happ will succeed at the big league level. As I mentioned above, he’s already proved he can hit at the major league level in spring training. He’s a pure hitter with an extremely powerful swing, and has a great sense for hitting. He has tremendous plate coverage, which will most definitely translate over to the major league level. Happ can be a help to an already powerful Cubs lineup. That call up will happen sooner rather than later if he continues to light it up in the international league for the Iowa Cubs.
But if we look at his future, for the sake of Happ’s career as a legitimate everyday big leaguer he needs to be traded. The Cubs need to deepen their pitching staff, and there’s already been talks that there isn’t really a solid position for Happ at Wrigley because of the abundance of young guns they already have. Even though Happ is one of the Cubs' most exciting young prospects, there’s a good chance he isn’t in their minds for the future.
Players like him don’t come along too often. He has the ability to impact the game in so many ways. He can steal bases, hit for average, hit for power, and play solid defense. But for him the place I see him succeeding the most is in the outfield. He doesn’t have great range at second base. He made 14 errors in the Arizona Fall league. In the outfield, he can use his speed more to his advantage when tracking down balls. At second base, he doesn’t really get to use that athleticism as much.
It Could Be the Right Move
With the Cubs off to a slow start, their pitching hasn’t looked great. They need more depth in the rotation. The only way to get more depth would be to trade away a great prospect like Happ.
Honestly, Happ deserves to play in the big leagues every day. I’m not saying he’s ready right now, but it won’t be long before he is. He still needs some grooming in Triple-A. Being traded will benefit his career and give him the chance to really solidify himself at the major league level. He might get a call up in May, or maybe not until June. It just depends on if he keeps producing in Triple-A. But at some time in 2017, it will happen. You will see Ian Happ at Wrigley.
But in the long run, it will benefit Happ to get a chance to be an everyday big leaguer with a different organization.