If there is an award for Cincinnati's Ian Happ to win this year, he's won it... or at least been a finalist. Happ has been a rare bright spot in what has been an otherwise rough season for the young Bearcats baseball team. Now, the junior earns perhaps his greatest honor, being drafted ninth overall by the Chicago Cubs in the MLB Draft, making him the first Bearcat ever to be drafted in the first round.
Happ has been named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year, a unanimous selection to the All-Conference First Team, a Louisville Slugger All-American and a First Team Academic All-American selection. As a junior, he led the conference in batting average (.366), slugging percentage (.681), on-base percentage (.490), total bases (130) and walks (47). He ranked third during the regular season with 14 home runs, fifth in runs scored (45) and seventh in hits (70).
After simply taking a peek at his statistics this season, you can see the appeal that MLB teams have in him as Happ offers a wide variety of skills and can contribute in a number of ways. That was obviously something Chicago liked about him throughout the process as they made him the ninth overall pick.
IAN HAPP, OF
6-FOOT, 190 LBS
Happ is one of the most polished and talented college hitters in the draft, a commodity that is rare and prized by many teams. He hit .369 with 14 homers, 44 RBIs and 49 walks this spring despite having double hernia surgery just prior to the season, and he has a long track record with his bat. There is some uncertainty about Happ's future position—he played outfield this year but has played second and third base often in the past. Some scouts compare him to Jason Kipnis as someone who can play average defense at second base with a potential impact offensive contribution from that position.
Next up for Happ is the decision he must make about his next step. According to MLB draft rules, Happ has until 11:59 p.m. on August 15 to sign with the Cubs. If he does not, and decides to return to Cincinnati for his senior year, Happ can re-enter the draft next June. Bearcats fans would love to see Happ back at Marge Schott Stadium next season, but only time will tell.
One thing is for sure... Happ deserves all the accolades he continues to receive. If Happ ultimately signs with the Cubs, then Chicago has themselves a very intriguing prospect for the future and Bearcats fans have another Cincinnati alum to keep an eye on at the pro level.