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Bearcats in the Big Leagues: Two Month Check In

We are two months into the MLB season. What have players like Josh Harrison, Ian Happ and Ryan Noda been up to?

San Diego Padres v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Just because the Cincinnati Bearcats are no longer playing baseball this season, that doesn’t mean former Bearcats are done for the year. With the Major League Baseball schedule a little more than a third of the way through, there is a whole lot of baseball left to be played in 2018 and there are more than a few former Bearcats who are making their living in the bigs (or minors). It’s about time we check in with them.

Josh Harrison

The Pirates utility infielder/outfielder is the longest tenured member of the BITBL squad but he missed a large chunk of the first two months of the season after fracturing his hand in mid-April. Prior to the injury, Harrison had been OK, with a triple slash line of .263/.328/.351. However, he was slumping pretty hard, going 2-for-19 with just one walk and no extra-base hits in the five games before he was sidelined.

After sitting out for more than a month, Harrison made his return to the lineup on May 20 in a Sunday afternoon game against the San Diego Padres. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle did not shy away from getting Harrison right back into the swing of things (puns!), as Harrison led off and played second base. Harrison wasted no time either, as he singled in his first at-bat and ended up going 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI. In the nine games he has played since coming back, he has slashed .317/.326/.488 and even launched his second home run of the season in a 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs last night. The recent hot streak has lifted his overall stat line to a more characteristic level (.735 OPS, 101 wRC+, 0.6 fWAR).

Ian Happ

Happ has been healthy all season and has been enjoying a rather strong year. While his batting average isn’t in the stratosphere, his slash line (.244/.360/.504) equates to a .864 OPS and 128 OPS+ thanks to lots of power and walks. He may strike out quite a bit (59 in 150 plate appearances), but his walk rate has jumped to 14.7 percent and with eight home runs, his isolated power is at .260, just a fraction below his mark from last season. He is definitely benefiting from some luck, with a batting average on balls in play of .383, but when you’re hitting the ball as hard as he is (41.2 percent hard hit rate), balls are going to find gaps. Happ did not play for the Cubs yesterday, but he did lace a double on Tuesday, ending a four-game hitless streak.

Connor Walsh

Walsh got to Triple-A last season, but he has been throwing down in Double-A with the Birmingham Barons (Chicago White Sox) this season and has really struggled. With a 7.65 ERA in 15 games (20 innings), he is obviously being knocked around. A big issue has been a rise in home runs allowed. With three dingers surrendered, Walsh has already tied the most he has let up in a single season. He is still striking guys out (28 compared to 14 walks), but that doesn’t matter much when he has allowed eight earned runs in his last 4 23 innings.

Ryan Atkinson

Atkinson has also taken a step back this season. After posting a 3.24 in rookie ball in 2016 and a 3.30 ERA across three levels in 2017, he is sporting a 4.01 mark through nine starts with the Double-A Jackson Generals (Arizona Diamondbacks). He is also being tagged for some dingers (four allowed) but the rest of his peripherals look at least OK. While he is allowing too much contact (43 hits in 42 23 innings), he has 51 strikeouts compared to only 17 walks. He has been impressive in his last two outings, compiling 12 innings of one-run ball while striking out 15.

Ryan Noda

The most recent addition to the BITBL roster, Noda was smashing home runs for the Bearcats just last season and then he went and slashed .364/.507/.575 with seven home runs and 59 walks compared to 60 strikeouts in rookie ball. That earned him a promotion to the full season Single-A Lansing Lugnuts (Toronto Blue Jays). Noda is not hitting so well there, with a batting average of .202 and 12 extra-base hits in 129 at-bats. However, he is making up for that with a very patient approach, as he he has sky-high on-base percentage (.444) thanks to 50 walks and only 45 strikeouts. He is stealing bases as well (eight) and just happened to hit a home run yesterday to lift himself back over the Mendoza line.

Tony Campana

Campana entered the professional ranks the same season as Harrison, but he has not had as successful a career. However, after not playing with a MLB or MiLB affiliated team in 2017, he signed with Rieleros de Aguascalientes of the Mexican Baseball League, which is a Triple-A league in Mexico made up of 16 teams. In 57 games, Campana has slashed .289/.348/.351 with 18 stolen bases across 225 at-bats.