In organization loaded with young talent, Ian Happ knows it'll take a lot of effort to stand out and move up, but for now, he's just taking care of what he can control.
"It's a great time to be a part of this club. Top to bottom, we have a lot of special people, whether it's coaches, front-office personnel or players," the Cubs' No. 3 prospect said. "My goal is to have four or five great at-bats every day. I try to see the ball well, get on base any way I can and help the team win. I don't really set statistical goals, but instead just want to have really competitive at-bats every day."
Happ went 4-for-5 with two home runs, four RBIs and a stolen base for Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach en route to a 6-4 win over Winston-Salem at BB&T Ballpark on Monday night. The four hits were a career high for the Pittsburgh native, who has reached base safely in 10 of his last 11 games.
He started his night by singling to left field in the first inning. Happ then belted his first Carolina League home run -- a solo shot to right-center -- in the third. The 2015 first-round pick said becoming accustomed to the tempo of the season has helped him find a groove.
"I'm feeling comfortable at the plate," Happ explained. "Settling into the rhythm of the season and even into the first road trip is helping a lot. I'm just trying to stick with the process and trust in what I have to do every day to be successful."
Happ made it three hits in three trips to the plate by singling to center field and then stole second in the fifth.
After MLB.com's No. 26 prospect Gleyber Torres lined an RBI double to left in the seventh, Happ blasted a two-run shot to left-center for his first two-homer game as a professional. He said hitting beyond a player like Torres does a lot for his confidence.
"He's an unbelievable young player," Happ said. "He's playing with guys who are three, four and five years older than him and doing really well. We enjoy being up the middle together."
Competing with ballplayers from all different backgrounds has been an eye-opening experience for him.
"It's awesome to get a chance to hear everybody's story and how they got to this point," the University of Cincinnati product said. "We're all playing this game together and that's the thing we all have in common. It's just really cool to learn from each other's experience and where they've come from."
Happ realizes his versatility as a hitter and a fielder could help him take the next step for his career. The Cubs have been particularly excited about his ability to switch-hit.
"[They're behind it] 100 percent," the 21-year-old said. "I worked on it for a long time when I was younger, and my freshman year of high school was the first time I did it full-time. The big advantage for me is I'm always able to turn a situation around. I never have to face a lefty hitting lefty or a nasty submariner from the right side."
Happ also can play in the infield and outfield, but is happy to have settled in at second base with the Pelicans.
"I knew it was a possibility that I'd move around," he added. "I was excited about it. I grew up as a middle infielder, so I am happy to be back in the dirt and ready to do whatever it takes."
Jason Vosler put Myrtle Beach on the board in the first with an RBI single to left.
In the eighth, back-to-back home runs by Marcus Davis and Brett Austin cut Myrtle Beach's lead to two runs.
Lefty Tommy Thorpe (1-1) gave up one run on five hits over 5 1/3 innings for the Pelicans. Right-hander David Berg didn't allow a hit and struck out one in notching a six-out save.
Michael Leboff is a contributor to MiLB.com.