I clued you in last May to Ian Happ, the nephew of a friend who the Cubs selected as their first round pick in last year’s baseball amateur draft. The Cubs seem to have their draft process honed to a science, having picked Kris Bryant as #1 in 2013 and Kyle Schwarber as #1 in 2014. To give you a frame of reference, the Phillies drafted Cornelius Randolph last year in the first round, just one spot after the Cubs drafted Happ #9 – and I’ll bet you that Ian wasn’t even on the Phils’ radar (Randolph by the way has been on the disabled list in Lakewood since April had was showing very little in A ball prior to that point). It’s safe to say that Happ has not disappointed; in fact he’s had all kinds of superlatives heaped on him.
Here’s Ian being congratulated last night as he crosses the plate after belting a mammoth home run over the right field wall for the Tennessee Smokies. It’s one thing for me to fawn all over Ian, but quite another when a fellow prospect admires what Happ has been able to do. Consider this quote from teammate Billy McKinney: “Oh, what a player,” McKinney said. “I’m extremely impressed with him. The guy is just a great player, has a lot of feel for the game, plays great defense, and he’s been swinging it. It’s incredible how well he’s been hitting the ball. What a steal the Cubs got getting him where they got him. It’s a lot of fun to watch him play.”
Well … if my Phillies didn’t have the fortune to draft Ian, it’s good that he’s in the system of a club building a dynasty instead of a team scrapping to stay out of the cellar. No one will mistake Pete Mackanin for Joe Maddon. And if I miss seeing Ian in the Fall League in a few months because he’s already just too darn good, then perhaps the Chicago Press Club (Dan, Sara, Ethan, Ella and Eva) will join Miriam and me whenever Ian makes his debut in Wrigleyville. Go Cubs, and Go Ian!