Cincinnati Bearcats junior Ian Happ started learning to switch hit as an eight year old and got really serious about it in his freshman year of high school. After watching the 2015 MLB Draft Prospect over a three-game series at USF, it can be concluded Happ is serious about everything he does in baseball.
“My approach is simple, get a quality at bat every time I get up there, see pitches, hit the ball hard and get on base,” said Happ who credits former major leaguer Sean Casey for his development as a player. “I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know Sean really well. And he just really preaches to me that hard-hit balls and quality at bats are where you need to stay, because that’s how you can define the success in baseball.”
That “approach” has turned Happ into a model of consistency, applies to both sides of the plate, and draws MLB scouts to every game he plays.
Along with his last two plus seasons at Cincinnati, Happ has played the last two summers in the Cape Cod League and his numbers are amazingly consistent.
2014 Cape Cod: 49 G, 204 PA, .326/.422/.506, 26/41 BB/K, 4 HR, 8/5 SB/CS
2014 Cincinnati: 51 G, 211 PA, .322/.443/.497, 32/35 BB/K, 5 HR, 19/5 SB/CS
2013 Cape Cod: 43 G, 182 PA, .302/.368/.509, 19/45 BB/K, 7 HR, 14/7 SB/CS
2013 Cincinnati: 56 G, 255 PA, .322/.451/.483, 47/32 BB/K, 6 HR, 24/6 SB/CS
So far in 2015?
Cincinnati: 24 G 98 PA, .407/.518/.733, 22/19 BB/K, 7 HR, 8/5 SB/CS
Those are slash lines that perk up the interest of major league teams, but Happ seems to ignore that, for now.
“No, I don’t think about it much, that’s something I cant control. I’m just going to go out there and play the game hard look at chips fall where they may,” said Happ. “I’m excited for the opportunity, its been a life long dream to play professional baseball, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. During the season I’m focused on preparing for the game and doing what i can to help this team win.”
Happ has played at second base and in the outfield and is listed at 6-foot, 205 pounds. Opinions about where he might play at the next level vary, but most project him at second base. Happ says he really doesn’t have a preference.
He does have a preference for winning and losing.
Cincinnati is in a transition year under second year head coach Ty Neal. The team features 22 freshman, one senior and is currently 6-19 and 0-3 in the American Conference.
“It’s definitely an experience that you hate. Everybody hates to lose. It’s a team game and the goal is to win, but it’s something you can learn from. You can learn from the losses and you can learn from failure, and what it’s like to grind out at bats every day whether you’re winning or losing,” declared Happ who is considered a team leader on a young Bearcats squad. “I think all the upperclassmen mentor these young guys. We have a lot of them, we have a lot of talent, but we have a lot of inexperience too, so we’re trying to do what ever we can to help them along.”
Coach Neal agrees.
“We hope our young guys take note of his detailed approach of the game. He is an informed player and takes in as much information as he can. The thing I hope out young guys take form Ian this year is they are not Ian Happ. They have a lot of baseball to play and an lot of information to take in before they can begin to start acting like Ian on the field. I want our guys to play like hungry amateurs and if given the opportunity yo play professionally. they can then to decide to play like a professional, or a hungry professional.” said Neal.
Neal has coached some of the great players of college baseball, Kyle Schwarber, Sam Travis, Aaron Slegers, Dustin DeMuth, Eric Arnett, Joey Denato to name a few, and knows special talent when he sees it.
So how does Happ compare?
“In my biased opinion, you are comparing him to some great players, teammates and individuals. I would rank Ian right up there with a few of those players. The thing that those players did was they were very grounded in their daily lives,they were approachable, coachable, humble and most importantly, they had a burning desire to help their team win. The prepared and played the game the way an amateur should play the game every single day,” added Neal.
Asked if he would choose Cincinnati again given the opportunity Happ quickly exclaimed,” yes sir.” He carries a 3.6 GPA as a finance major at Cincinnati’s College of Business and was recently named Scholar-Athlete of the Month.
Happ is focused and unassuming. If you see him outside of a baseball environment you might miss him.
On the field, well that’s another story.
On Sunday, no less than 12 MLB scouts were taking note of his every move and every at bat. Expect him to be seen by MLB fans sometime later this summer.