The Cubs and first-round pick Ian Happ have agreed to terms on a $3MM bonus, reports MLB.com’s Jim Callis (via Twitter). That bonus represents a savings of $351K for the Cubs in relation to the No. 9 selection’s slot value (per Baseball America).
An outfielder/second baseman out of Cincinnati, Happ was a consensus Top 25 talent in this year’s draft. ESPN’s Keith Law saw Happ the most favorably, ranking him seventh on his Top 100 list. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs also had Happ in his Top 10, ranking him ninth. Callis and Jonathan Mayo pegged him at No. 20 on their Top 200, and Happ ranked 24th on Baseball America’s Top 500.
There’s some debate as to whether Happ’s eventual home will be in the outfield grass or on the infield dirt, which likely contributed to the slight gap in the listed rankings. Law calls second base Happ’s likely position, and McDaniel, too, notes that he has the potential to play there. The MLB.com and BA scouting reports note that a corner outfield spot — likely left, due to lack of arm strength — is a likelier outcome, so it’s not a surprise to see him rank a bit further down those lists.
Happ’s bat seems to generate fewer question marks, as all four agree that he’s one of the most advanced hitters in this year’s class. ESPN notes that the switch-hitter has a better swing from the left side and has shown the ability to hit for power. BA notes that he has “excellent” bat speed from both sides of the plate, projecting as a plus hitter with average power. Happ’s also said to be a solid to above-average runner. McDaniel feels he can have four average-or-better tools on the 20-80 scouting scale, while MLB.com feels all five can be average or better.
Happ will add to the continually proliferating stable of premium young hitters in the Cubs’ minor league system. Though the team has already seen the likes of Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Addison Russell emerge to lock down regular spots around the diamond, other names such as Kyle Schwarber, Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, Albert Almora, Billy McKinney and Gleyber Torres are still working toward that same goal (though of course each comes with varying timelines).