When Ian Happ was drafted ninth overall by the Chicago Cubs in last year's MLB draft, he joined an elite brotherhood. Its a group that includes Sandy Koufax and Kevin Youkilis. It's what we at Down the Drive call the Bearcats in the Big Leagues crew. There are currently four former Bearcats playing in either the minors or at the MLB level. Here are their stories.
Easily the most high-profile former UC baseball player in the MLB system, Harrison has been hitting for average, swiping bags and playing every position outside of pitcher and catcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates for a few years now. Originally drafted by the Cubs in the 2008 amateur draft, Harrison is playing very closely to the All Star level he reached in 2014. With a slash line that anyone would want from a top of the lineup batter let alone a guy normally plugged into the seven-hole (.308/.336/.400), Harrison is a nice complement to the Pirates' loaded outfield, recording 12 multi-hit games this season while finding success on all five of his stolen base attempts.
In the last week, he has hit a bit of an icy patch, hitting just .240 in six games while recording just one extra base hit, a double against the Cardinals.
Campana has gotten a few shots at the MLB level but has been unable to stick. He last played with the Angels in 2014 after coming over from the Diamondbacks as part of a trade that involved Joe Thatcher, Zach Borenstein and Joey Krehbiel. A couple of minor league contracts later and Campana is now playing for the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, the Syracuse Chiefs. He hit.296 with a .387 on-base percentage in 10 games to start this season but did not record an extra base hit or drive in a run and has been on the disabled list since late April.
In his minor league career he has a slash line of .295/.353/.351 with 213 stolen bases. Those numbers drop quite a bit when examining Campana's MLB career (.249/.296/.288) although he did have back-to-back 20 steal seasons with the Cubs in 2011 and 2012.
Just two years removed from his college playing days, Walsh has slowly made his may to Single-A Advanced where he is pitching for the Wintsom-Salem Dash, which is an affiliate of the White Sox. The right-hander who once led the Bearcats' staff has produced a 3.12 ERA in nine games for the Dash and is 5-4 with a 4.44 ERA across three seasons in the minors. Last year, for the Single-A Kannapolis Intimidators he struck out 79 strikeouts in 53 innings pitched and he has 16 punchouts in 17 1/3 frames this season, showing he is working with some swing-and-miss stuff.
Still a raw prospect in the Cubs' system, and let's be honest, the Cubs aren't going to be looking for reinforcements anytime soon, Happ is still a ways away from cutting into the Show. However, he did fairly well in his first season at the pro level, batting .259 with nine home runs and 33 RBI combined between Single-A Full and Single-A Short Season. That was enough to bump him up to Single-A Advanced Myrtle Beach where he got off to a blazing hot start to the 2016 campaign. He has come back down to earth lately, but is still throwing up the type of stats (.288/.397/.470, four home runs, 19 RBI, 5 stolen bases) that make him a promising prospect for Chicago.