CHICAGO -- If you're a collegiate, draft eligible, position player there's a good chance the Chicago Cubs are going to be interested in you. In taking Cincinnati junior Ian Happ with the ninth pick in the 2015 amateur draft on Monday night they repeated their draft tactics from the past two years.
"Our strategy is always to get the best player," Senior Vice-President of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod said afterwards. "We don't walk away from pitching. If players are close, college hitters are the way to go. Talent being equal we would probably lean to the college player."
They've gone that route in taking right-handed third baseman Kris Bryant in 2013, left-handed hitting catcher Kyle Schwarber last year and now the switch-hitting infielder/outfielder, Happ.
"I'm excited to add to the college bats coming through," Happ said on a conference call with reporters late Monday. "Hopefully be the next one to move through the system."
If the past is any indication he'll get a chance this summer to end up at Class-A as both Bryant and Schwarber did in their draft years then perhaps he'll begin next season at Double-A. We've seen this successful act before.
"It just so happens three years running they've all been college position players," McLeod said. "We're not going to take a lesser talent. We always keep the long term view."
The long view with Happ involves a mature attitude and a keen eye at the plate -- again similar to his first-round predecessors. His .492 on-base percentage was third best among juniors and ninth overall.
"He's been on our radar for a couple of years," McLeod said.
As for a position, McLeod indicated they weren't going to "limit" Happ and they'll just let things play out. Happ was fine with that as he wasn't sure what his best position is anyway.
"I don't think one position is my best right now," he responded. "I'm comfortable in the outfield (and) I'm comfortable at second base."
Happ says he took steps in the Cape Cod league last year learning how to be "consistent" while hitting with a wood bat. For several years he's had respected former big leaguer Sean Casey helping him with the mental part of the game. In looking into his background you can see why the Cubs liked him, he fits their mold of a mature, hard-working, athletic player.
"You trust in your process that you've done," McLeod said.
That process has worked well for them in the past. The decision to take Happ may have come together last week when he worked out for the Cubs at Wrigley Field while the right-field bleachers were being prepped to open later this week.
"Both sides of the plate he was reaching the seats easily," McLeod said. "(He'll) run into 15 home runs-plus."
Happ said he was trying not to hit the construction workers in the head and had a good time getting to know the front office.
"Got a chance to experience family atmosphere," Happ said. "Extremely excited. Fortunate to be part of an historic organization."
Donnie Dewees: The Cubs took NorthFlorida outfielder Donnie Dewees with their second round pick, 47th overall on Monday. Dewees hit .422 with 18 home runs in 60 games this season as a redshirt sophmore.