From Draft day to professional debut and beyond, the first month in the Minor Leagues can be a wild ride. Ian Happ can add homering off a Major Leaguer to his memorable June.
The Cubs' first-round pick belted his first professional long ball on Saturday night in Class A Short Season Eugene's 10-4 loss to Everett at Everett Memorial Stadium.
"It's been a crazy experience, been a lot of fun. Been all over the country, but I'm enjoying it," Happ said. "Not nervous. It's been great getting to know the guys and just enjoying playing baseball with them."
A day after going 1-for-5 in his pro debut, Happ squared up an offering from rehabbing Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma and took it deep over the right field wall for a leadoff shot in the fourth inning.
"It was cool to face a big leaguer and see what kind of stuff he had, and I'm glad I could make it happen," the University of Cincinnati product said. "[I was] trying to put the ball in play hard, using the barrel. [Iwakuma] made a mistake up in the zone and I was able to capitalize. ... It felt good to get it out of the way and I'm excited for more to come."
Selected ninth overall on June 8, Happ signed with the Cubs on Thursday, reported to the club's extended spring training complex in Mesa, Arizona, then made it to Everett in time for his debut on Friday. The Pittsburgh native said it was special to sign with the North Siders in the wake of the promotions of Kris Bryant and Addison Russell.
"It's good to see all these young guys coming up and helping the big league club," he said. "It's really an exciting time to be a Chicago Cub."
Happ became the first Bearcat to be selected in the first round, surpassing Josh Harrison, who the Cubs snagged in the sixth round of the 2008 Draft. He ranks third in school history with 128 walks and fifth with 56 career stolen bases. The 20-year-old switch-hitter finished his college career as Cincinnati's Male Athlete of the Year.
"I try to be aggressive, just try to get on base as many times as I can and make something happen with my legs," he said. "I'm just looking to have as many quality at-bats as I can, get to know the game a little bit better and just really enjoy myself."
Making his first rehab start, Iwakuma allowed one run on three hits while striking out three over 3 2/3 innings. Troy Scott (1-0) struck out the only batter he faced to pick up the win.
Emeralds starter Oscar De La Cruz (0-1) yielded three runs -- two earned -- on five hits and three walks while fanning six in four frames.