SEVIERVILLE - The Chicago Cubs announced on Monday that Tennessee Smokies IF Ian Happ has been named the organization's Player of the Month for June. It is the third time a Smokies' player has received that honor this season, as IF Chesny Young and RHP Paul Blackburn were named the system's Player and Pitcher of the Month for April.
The three players honored this season matches the amount of award winners from last year. Three Tennessee players - 1B Dan Vogelbach (April), C Kyle Schwarber (May) and OF Albert Almora Jr. (August) garnered the Cubs' Minor League Player of the Month honors a season ago.
Between High-A Myrtle Beach and Tennessee, Happ destroyed opposing pitching during the season's third month. The 21-year-old batted an eye-popping .422 (35-83) with 13 runs scored, 14 extra-base hits - including four home runs - 21 RBI, five stolen bases and 16 walks in 26 contests between the two levels. Happ also accrued a .500 on-base percentage, a .699 slugging percentage and a 1.199 OPS.
The switch-hitter's dominance shined throughout the Cubs' farm system, as the former first-round pick ranked near the top of every major offensive category during the month. Happ led Chicago's minor leaguers in batting average (.422), hits (35), runs batted in (21), on-base percentage (.500), slugging percentage (.699) and OPS (1.199). The Pittsburgh, Pa. native was also tied for the organizational lead in total bases (58), while ranking second in extra-base hits (14) and doubles (nine), tied for second in walks (16) and tied for third in home runs (four).
Happ was named a Carolina League Mid-Season All-Star while with Myrtle Beach, accumulating a .296 average (71-240) with 37 runs scored, 26 extra-base knocks - seven of which were homers - 42 RBI, 48 walks and 10 stolen bases in 69 games for the Pelicans. Transferred to Tennessee to start the second half on June 23, the 21-year-old has shown no signs of slowing down at the next level. In 10 games for the Smokies, Happ has blasted Southern League pitching with a slash line of .441/.462/.676 with 15 hits, two doubles, two home runs and eight runs batted in.
The second-year pro entered the 2016 campaign as the Cubs' No. 3 overall prospect according to Baseball America. The same publication listed him as the 87th-best farmhand in all of Minor League Baseball. Happ was selected by Chicago in the first round (ninth overall) of the 2015 MLB Draft out of the University of Cincinnati.
Low-A South Bend's RHP Preston Morrison was named the Cubs' Minor League Pitcher of the Month after going 4-1 with a 0.83 ERA (3 ER in 32.2 IP) in five starts.
Tennessee will look to snap a two-game losing streak tonight, as the Smokies open up a 10-game homestand with a five-game series against the Jackson Generals, the Double-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. RHP Jen-Ho Tseng (4-3, 2.85 ERA) is expected to toe slab for the Tennessee. Jackson is scheduled to counter with RHP Jordan Pries (5-2, 5.46 ERA).
The Pilot Pre-Game Show will kick off the broadcast at 6:50 p.m. ET, leading up to the 7:05 p.m. ET first pitch from Smokies Stadium. Monday evening's broadcast can be heard on Sports Radio WNML 99.1 FM and 990 AM, as well as on SmokiesBaseball.com and via the TuneInRadio and MiLB First Pitch apps. It can also be viewed online via MiLB.tv.
Monday's Independence Day affair will be a McGhee Tyson Airport Dollar Monday, as fans can purchase hot dogs, popcorn, programs and small Pepsi products for as cheap as $1. It will also be a Pilot Prize Night at the ballpark. All fans in attendance will receive Pilot Prize Cards that can award patrons anything from free gas to various food items from Pilot Food Marts. Smokies players and coaches will wear special "Stars and Stripes" caps that will be auctioned off during the game to benefit Relay for Life of Sevier County. Following the final out there will be a tremendous postgame fireworks display, plus children in attendance can run the bases courtesy of Shoney's.
Single-game tickets, as well as multi-voucher and season ticket packages are still available, and can be purchased online at smokiesbaseball.com, or by calling the Smokies Ticket Office at 865-286-2300
ABOUT THE TENNESSEE SMOKIES
The Tennessee Smokies are the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Members of the ten-team Southern League, Smokies baseball has been entertaining families and fans of America's national pastime in the East Tennessee region for over 100 years. To learn more about the Tennessee Smokies, visit www.smokiesbaseball.com