Ian Happ was a Cactus League terror this spring, slashing .383/.441/.750 over 68 plate appearances for the Cubs, homering five times and driving in 21 runs. He was then shipped to Triple-A Iowa to open the regular season, and the merciless raking has continued. Happ has hit safely in each of his four games, going (very) deep in three straight. Just look at this moonshot.
Happ is a 22-year-old switch-hitter getting his first taste of Triple-A pitching, and he certainly doesn’t seem over-matched. He hit .296/.410/.475 over 69 games in the High-A Carolina League last year before a promotion to Double-A, where he was finally challenged (.262/.318/.415). He finished the season with 48 extra-base hits, 15 homers and 16 steals across two levels, scoring 72 runs and driving in 73. Happ is playing second base for Iowa — a position that’s thoroughly blocked in Chicago — but he’s also spent time in the minors at all three outfield positions.
At the moment, he’s the leading candidate to be this year’s impact mid-season bat added to an already loaded Cubs batting order. Or perhaps he’s a trade chip for Chicago. Either way, it seems likely we’ll see Happ in the big leagues at some point in 2017.
• Oakland 2B/SS prospect Franklin Barreto has opened the season going 8-for-17 with a triple and two homers for Triple-A Nashville. He swiped 30 bags and homered 10 times at Double-A last year, so he’s definitely a prospect of interest for fantasy purposes. Barreto is generally regarded as the top farmhand in the A’s system, likely to arrive in the majors this summer.
• Shortstop Gleyber Torres was a spring hero for the Yankees (13-for-29, 9 XBH, 9 RBIs), and he’s reached base seven times in his first 14 plate appearances at Double-A Trenton. Torres is a top-of-the-ranks prospect who was flipped to New York in the Aroldis Chapman last season. He absolutely ruled the AFL, winning the league MVP and batting title (.403).
• Phillies prospects Dylan Cozens and Rhys Hoskins combined for 78 homers, 241 RBIs, 132 walks and 311 strikeouts at Double-A last year. The pair has moved to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2017, and both players went deep over the weekend. Philly has a clear need for power at the major league level, and these dudes are just one step away. Cozens led all minor leaguers in home runs last season (40), but he also whiffed 186 times and had almost no success against LHPs. Hoskins is the more willing walker, and his contact issues aren’t quite so pronounced (125 Ks).
• Victor Robles, Washington’s top prospect, went 3-for-4 with a double, homer and a stolen base on Sunday, crossing the plate four times for Single-A Potomac. He’s just 19 years old, no great threat to debut in the bigs this year. But he’s an upper-tier talent with pop and wheels, and he belongs on your radar.
• Yoan Moncada opened the Triple-A season by going 7-for-11 with a walk and a steal for Charlotte, then he launched a no-doubt homer in his third game. Moncada offers power, speed and on-base ability, and we’ll see him on the south side by mid-summer.
• Cody Bellinger is still crushing baseballs, just so you know. He’s 7-for-17 with one homer and three doubles at Triple-A OKC. He’s obviously blocked at first base in LA, so a move to the outfield is his best route to the bigs.