The prospect ranking season continues in full force.
After already checking in on the lists at Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs, and ESPN (organizational rankings), let’s move on to a different publication and a different type of ranking.
Although he hasn’t yet released MLB Pipeline’s full Top 100 Prospects list – that’ll be this Saturday, Jan. 28, with a one-hour show on MLB Network at 7 p.m. CT – Jonathan Mayo has been going through each position on the field while ranking the ten best prospects at that spot.
Already, he’s ranked the top ten right-handed pitchers, left-handed pitchers, catchers, first basemen, and second base prospects, and it is with the latter-most set of prospects, that we find our titular Cub, Ian Happ, ranking among the very best.
According to Jonathan Mayo, Ian Happ is the third best second base prospect in all of baseball, behind two of the very best prospects in the game – Yoan Moancada (#1 overall last update) and Ozzie Albies (#12). S0 there’s some extremely good company at the top for the Cubs last first-round pick:
- Yoan Moncada, Boston Red Sox
- Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves
- Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs
- Willia Calhoun, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Travis Demeritte, Atlanta Braves
- Andy Ibanez, Texas Rangers
- Scott Kingery, Philadelphia Phillies
- Luis Urias, San Diego Padres
- Carlos Asuaje, San Diego Padres
- Aliezer Alvarez, St. Louis Cardinals
Each prospect in the top ten comes with some video and a write-up. So if you’re looking for any extra information on one of them, just head over to MLB.com and check the full list out for yourself.
As for Happ, specifically, he ranks out as the third best second base prospect in baseball behind two potential top ten talents.
Mayo points out that although Happ didn’t quite move as quickly as Kris Bryant (Triple-A in his first full professional season) or Kyle Schwarber (MLB in his first full professional season), he did make it all the way up to Double-A in his first year of pro-ball – which I don’t think has been fully appreciated, given that Bryant and Schwarber were extreme exceptions.
There are plenty of things to talk about involving Ian Happ, but I think we too often overlook his relatively rapid descent. And in order to do that, we need to clear a few things up. First and foremost, Kyle Schwarber’s ROCKET ascent to the Major Leagues was anything but normal. Not only is he clearly a special talent, but also the Cubs were thrust into their first postseason hunt in years and needed his bat badly. His development was not the exclusive consideration at that time, compared to what it otherwise would have been. As for Kris Bryant, well, I think his back-to-back Rookie of the Year and MVP awards speak for how unusually ready for MLB he was.
Happ made it to Double-A in his first full professional season, and that’s really impressive, even for a polished college bat. He has effectively set himself up to be a 2017 call-up (if needed), in just his second full professional season. Most prospects take far longer than that and/or don’t make it at all.
Here’s a quick scouting report on the switch-hitting Happ, via MLB Pipeline:
Among the highlights, we learn that MLB Pipeline believes Happ might have 20-20 potential in the Major Leagues as a switch-hitter who’s better from the left side of the plate (which, if you’ve gotta be better at one than the other … that’s the one).
Although the video mentions that Happ’s strike zone increased upon moving to Double-A, it’s worth pointing out that his strikeout rate actually fell (23.5% in High-A, 21.9% in Double-A). With that said, his walk rate did get cut in half (down to 7.3%) which made his OPS (.885 in High-A) drop over .150 points (.733 in Double-A). But to be clear, both Happ and the front office made note of how he was worn down by the end of his first full professional season, as is the case with many pro-ball rookies. It’s a long first year.
I have my full expectations set on a big season in Double and Triple-A for Happ, and I think he might even get a taste of the big leagues before the season is over. Eloy Jimenez might be the top prospect in the Cubs’ system, but Happ is much closer to making an impact.