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Happ extends RBI streak in Pelicans' rout

Cubs No. 3 prospect smacks three-run homer, scores three times
June 5, 2016

Ian Happ and his Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach teammates knew they had the opposing pitcher on the ropes on Sunday, all they needed to do was pick and choose their spots.

"We did a really good job of being patient with [Potomac starter Luis Reyes]," Happ said. "We had a lot of walks. Gleyber [Torres] had three himself and guys just did a good job of not swinging at bad pitches. People say that hitting is contagious and it definitely was today. Everybody was swinging well."

The Cubs' third-ranked prospect slugged a three-run homer, singled and scored three runs as the Pelicans steamrolled to a 15-0 victory over Potomac at Field.

"I'm feeling really comfortable," the 2015 first-round pick said. "I'm having a lot of good at-bats and it's just a matter of time before the balls fell in place."

Happ walked on five pitches in the bottom of the first, one of five free passes Reyes issued in 1 2/3 innings, before scoring on a sacrifice fly by Daniel Lockhart to give Myrtle Beach a 2-0 lead. By the time he returned to the plate in the third, the Pelicans had seven hits of their 15 hits.

"When everybody is getting hits, you want to jump on the train and get one yourself," the switch-hitting second baseman said. "But our team philosophy is just getting good at-bats, and our guys just did a great job at that today."

Happ joined the hit parade with a single to center in the third before opening a 14-0 lead with his opposite-field homer in the fourth.

"[Reliever Mario Sanchez] threw me an outside fastball and I just did a good job of staying through it and getting good barrel on it," he said.

The long ball extended Happ's RBI streak to six games and gave him 35 on the season, which ranks eighth in the Carolina League.

"I think my key when there are guys on base is just try to put the ball in play," Happ said. "I've been pretty fortunate the last few games with guys on base, them doing a good job of getting on to give me a lot of opportunities to drive them in."

Through 56 games in his first full Minor League season, the Pittsburgh native is slashing .273/.388/.429. He said teams throughout the league are "doing a good job of throwing the ball over the plate," but he's still adjusting to the pace after splitting last summer between Class A Short Season Eugene and Class A South Bend.

"I'm just getting used to the first full-season rhythm," Happ said. "Just being prepared every day and have good at-bats and playing team baseball. Everybody has done a good job so far, we are in second place right now, so things are going well."

Yasiel Balaguert, Gioskar Amaya and Charcer Burks matched Happ with two hits apiece, with Balaguert and Amaya hitting back-to-back homers in the second to give the Pelicans a 7-0 lead. Lockhart totaled three hits and fell a homer shy of the cycle.

Cubs No. 21 prospect Trevor Clifton (4-3) tossed six innings for the win, allowing four hits and a walk to go with six strikeouts.

Michael Peng is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @MichaelXPeng.