If you are a religious reader of Bearcats in the Big Leagues, you know that the first spot is usually reserved for Josh Harrison, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ infielder who has been a consistent contributor at the MLB level for several years. We’re changing it up this once because there was a major development in the BITBL cinematic universe this past week. Ian Happ made his MLB debut! But that’s not all. He’s been fantastic. In five games he is slashing .353/.500/.824 with two home runs, four RBI and as many walks as strikeouts (five). He has been playing so well that even the stacked Cubs may need to find a permanent spot for him. Happ is obviously one of Chicago’s biggest prospects and he is proving that type of talk right, showing he can handle big league pitching at least in a small sample.
Don’t worry, the star of BITBL is still Harrison, who made his MLB debut May 31, 2011. Harrison only slashed .238/.238/.286 in his first five MLB games, but he obviously has done enough since to warrant a spot on the MLB roster year in and year out. All players of that caliber go through slumps (well, except for maybe Mike Trout), and Harrison is marred in one, or at least has been this past week. He has only five hits in 23 at-bats (.217) and has struck out five times in 28 plate appearances while posting an on-base percentage below .300. However, he did pull off a magical feat of body contortion that turned a single into a double.
For the season, Harrison is still slashing a solid .286/.350/.471 and is already worth one win with a wRC+ of 120.
An up and down week for Walsh leaves him with a 3.66 ERA in 11 appearances (19 2⁄3 innings). He blew a save in the seventh inning on May 13 against the Chattanooga Lookouts, allowing one run on a hit and three walks before being pulled after recording just one out. Walsh was much better against the Lookouts a few days later, when he pitched the final 2 1⁄3 innings of a 4-1 loss without giving up a hit.
Although he only pitched once in the last week, Atkinson dominated, putting together arguably the best start of his professional career. He twirled six shutout innings while allowing only two hits and striking out nine. He is 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 17 total innings for the Visalia Rawhide, the Class A - Advanced affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.