Mt. Lebanon’s Happ hits home run in MLB debut with Cubs
Less than five years ago, Ian Happ was swinging for the fences at Mt. Lebanon High School. Today, he’s socking home runs out of Major League Baseball parks.
In his debut with the Chicago Cubs on May 13, Happ socked a roundtripper for his first major league hit. The two-run shot and a walk were not enough to prevent a 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Nevertheless it was a memorable beginning for the 2012 Lebo graduate and a call-up that still has his former manager shaking his head in awe.
“I can’t believe he’s not even five full years out of high school and he’s in the major leagues,” Lebo skipper Patt McCloskey said. “It’s a testimony to his refusal to be denied his goal. I cannot even begin to express how happy I am for him.”
Happ’s path to the majors began when he drew the attention of college scouts as a high school freshman. The Almanac’s 2012 MVP for baseball owned a .449 career batting average at Mt. Lebanon. The second baseman, who debuted in the outfield this weekend, accepted a scholarship to the University of Cincinnati. During three seasons with the Bearcats, he batted .338 with 25 home runs and 107 RBI.
The Cubs selected Happ, then a junior, as their No. 1 in the 2015 amateur draft. After an impressive training camp, where he batted .383 in 29 games this spring, Happ was assigned to Iowa. He was batting .298 with nine home runs and 25 RBIs before he bruised his left thumb. Once off the disabled list, Happ smacked 10 hits in 20 at bats. He went 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI when he got the call to report to St. Louis.
“I felt good about what I did in spring, and being there, being a sponge, picking everybody’s brains,” Happ told Carris Muskat, who has covered the Cubs since 1987 and has worked for MLB.com since 2001. “I was excited to go to Iowa and compete there, and now am fortunate to end up here.”
Happ was called up on a short-term basis because of injuries. He’s batting second and playing right field for the Cubs. Happ, however, is making the best of his stay. In Sunday’s 5-0 loss to the Cards, he doubled and singled. In two games, he has three hits, driven in two and struck out once. He is batting .429 with a .500 on-base percentage.
“You just have to take it in and enjoy it,” he said before his MLB debut. “It’s one of those situations where I might wake up tomorrow and not remember what happened. You just have to slow everything down and enjoy it and be in the moment.”
Happ hopes to hang on to his spot for more memorable moments. At the least, he’s planning for another month because the Cubs will becoming to Pittsburgh for a three-game series June 16-18.