ST. LOUIS – Ian Happ is in the big leagues only because of a sudden roster need.
But after two games, the Cubs’ second-ranked prospect may have earned consideration to stick longer than the roster need lasts.
“If he keeps doing what he looked like, it’s hard to say that you don’t want him here longer,” manager Joe Maddon said. “There’s other ways to fit him in.”
Happ, a switch-hitting infield-outfield hybrid, was called up from Class AAA Iowa Saturday because of a series of minor injuries (and Kris Bryant’s flu bug) that sidelined lineup regulars.
The No. 9 overall pick in the 2015 draft started in right field and batted second the last two games against the Cardinals, hitting a home run in Saturday’s debut (also drawing a walk) and then doubling to the opposite field in left in his first at-bat Sunday and later beating out an infield single.
He also made a sliding catch in right field for the first out of the Cardinal third Sunday, then finished the game in center — where a strong throw to the plate on a single helped prevent a run.
“We know how good he is,” Maddon said. “We know what he means to our future. Go play, and let us figure out the rest.”
Barring another injury or sudden need, the Cubs’ next roster decision could come mid- to late week when the right fielder Jason Heyward (jammed finger) is expected back from the disabled list.
Happ’s versatility could play into his favor. Corner infielder Jeimer Candelario, who was called up as the 26th man for Tuesday’s doubleheader and stuck when position guys began to ail, could be a more logical corresponding move for Heyward.
After that, could Happ become this year’s version of Albert Almora Jr. – who made his debut because of a roster emergency last summer and wound up on the World Series roster?
“The team, roster-wise, is in a state of flux now based on different guys being banged up,” Maddon said. “All Ian has to worry about is to continue to do what he did in camp and what he did in AAA, and let us make that decision.”