Ian Happ and Robel Garcia Blast Off, Each Hoping to Be Contributors Next Year

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Ian Happ and Robel Garcia Blast Off, Each Hoping to Be Contributors Next Year

Chicago Cubs

Two days of games left, and then the loooooooooong offseason. We’re gonna have to enjoy the last moments of joy that the season provides us.

Last night, we got a handful, including a couple blasts that I found especially enjoyable because of who hit them.

Before the Cubs blew things open, Ian Happ hit a game-tying homer to continue the TEAR he’s been on lately:

Coupled with two other hits and no strikeouts, Happ’s 2019 big league line has now improved to .256/.324/.526, with a 116 wRC+ and a 25.0% K rate. That last figure had reached 36.1% last year. The dude put in the work at AAA this year, and I’m really excited about what a valuable role player the 25-year-old could be on the Cubs next year.

It remains to be seen whether Robel Garcia can turn that corner to valuable role player from “amazing story”, but there’s one thing he can absolutely do, and that’s destroy fastballs:

I don’t know what your scouting report said, Cardinals, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t: throw Robel Garcia a first pitch fastball middle-in. That is probably a dinger more often than it’s anything else.

The homer was Garcia’s fifth in the big leagues, and 32nd overall this year between AA, AAA, and MLB, just one year after playing in Italy. He’s hit .200/.269/.500 (91 wRC+) over 78 big league PAs, striking out in 43.6% of them (eep). Still, lotta bones there to like: easy power, switch-hitter, good athlete, defensive versatility.

For Garcia to become a useful bench player at the big league level going forward, he will obviously have to figure out how to recognize Major League spin, because you can feast on fastballs for a little while, but, as we saw in his initial stint, eventually you just stop seeing anything other than breaking balls out of the zone.

Although he’ll be 27 next year, given what Garcia accomplished in transitioning from busted prospect to Italian pro to reaching the Majors, would you really say it’s impossible for him to make more adjustments? Let’s just see the work he puts in this offseason now that he’s in a stateside organization, let him return to AAA to open the year as a depth bench option, and see if he can cut down those strikeouts. Even setting aside his story, I’m really glad the Cubs have this guy in the org going forward, because you just never know.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.