Draft Video Breakdown: Ian Happ

OnDeckDigital is a new company run by former big league pitcher Randy Flores that films, logs and stores video on their website of multiple angles from some of the top amateur baseball games around the country. They have an exclusive contract to video the prestigious Cape Cod League and have expanded into colleges, high schools and youth events as well. Numerous MLB teams already subscribe to their service and we wanted to show FanGraphs readers what the video and information from OnDeckDigital can do.

I chose arguably the top draft-eligible hitting prospect from the Cape, OnDeckDigital made a highlight reel with their video from the Cape and Matt Rose and I give some analysis for context to what you’re seeing. All of their video is HD, available on mobile devices and is easily sharable to social media. You can learn more at OnDeckDigital.com

Ian Happ, 2B, Cincinnati (NCAA) & Harwich (Cape Cod League)
6’0/205, B/R, Draft Day Age: 20.8, Draft Ranking: 13th

Happ burst onto the national scouting scene in the summer after his freshman year at Cincinnati, when he was one of the top couple prospects on the Cape. He was an unknown underclassman prospect when the summer started, but caught scouts’ attention playing second base and flashing 65 speed with 55 raw power from both sides of the plate.

Scouting Report
Background: Grades are present/future on the 20-80 scouting scale, which is explained in more detail here. For amateur hitters, the present hit grade for all of them would be a 20 (as it would be for any hitter in A-Ball or below). To convey more information in this grade, I make it a peer grade for amateurs, grading their game hitting performance relative to peers, which for Happ would be top 2-3 round college juniors. FVs will generally be a notch higher for amateur players than professional players, since we have less performance data/failure to judge.

Hit: 55/55, Raw Power: 55/55, Speed: 55/55, Field: 45/50+, Throw: 55/55, FV: 50

Happ has played shortstop, second base, center field and left field over the last two seasons for Cincinnati and Harwich. Scouts haven’t reached a consensus about where he fits long-term yet, but that’s to be expected, as the intensive scouting of the draft class begins in a few weeks when games start. Happ cleaned up his plate discipline a bit this summer, but there’s still some scouts who aren’t sure if he can hit for average and power with a wood bat against top pitching. He’s a switch hitter with above average hitting tools and raw power, but his approach and how he handles off-speed stuff has come into question for some.

The main question for Happ is what position he’ll play; the most likely landing spots are second base or center field, as they both fit his current skillset and his power profiles well above average at those positions. This summer on the Cape, Happ had less energy and was turning in 55 run times (two grades lower than last summer), so scouts bearing down on him for the first time assumed he doesn’t have the foot speed for center field, while some said there was a nagging injury to blame. If the speed doesn’t come back, then Happ needs to stick in the infield at second or third, or else he’ll move to a corner outfield spot, where his power is more ordinary.

2014 Cape Cod: 49 G, 204 PA, .326/.422/.506, 26/41 BB/K, 4 HR, 8/5 SB/CS
2014 Cincinnati: 51 G, 211 PA, .322/.443/.497, 32/35 BB/K, 5 HR, 19/5 SB/CS
2013 Cape Cod: 43 G, 182 PA, .302/.368/.509, 19/45 BB/K, 7 HR, 14/7 SB/CS
2013 Cincinnati: 56 G, 255 PA, .322/.451/.483, 47/32 BB/K, 6 HR, 24/6 SB/CS

Happ’s 2014 Cape Cod League Batted Ball Stats

Matt Rose watched video of all of Happ’s 2014 Cape Cod League at bats and logged the pitch type, location, batted ball landing spot and type of contact for every ball Happ put in play last summer. Those numbers are below and Matt mixes in scouting observations, to give the numbers context since we don’t have the batted ball figures for every player in the league for comparison purposes.

Type of Contact
In Play: 104
Flyball: 29%
Groundball: 39%
Line Drive: 26%
Pop Up: 6%

Quality of Contact
Hard: 49%
Medium: 36%
Soft: 19%

Direction of Contact, Hitting Right-Handed
Line Drives/Fly Balls to the Outfield: 20
Left Field: 35%
Center Field: 30%
Right Field: 35%

Direction of Contact, Hitting Left-Handed
Line Drives/Fly Balls to the Outfield: 28
Left Field: 46%
Center Field: 32%
Right Field: 22%

Happ is a switch hitter that doesn’t seem to be clearly better one side or the other, as most young switch hitters are. He has a quick, simple stroke from both sides of the plate, which allows him to track the ball a bit longer than the average hitter. This has led to a good walk rate along with a lot of solid contact to all fields.

Of the data I was able to track from Happ’s season on the Cape, he had an outstanding amount of hard contact with nearly half of the balls he put in play (49%) being judged as hard hit. He also managed to use the whole field effectively, as seen by the fact that, on balls to the outfield, he went to the opposite field more often than the pull-side as a lefty and exactly as often when batting righty.

He has strong hands and wrists and a good feel for the barrel, which allowed him to have relatively few pop ups and weakly hit balls (only 19% of balls in play were soft contact), particularly for a college hitter still early in his wood bat career. Happ’s speed and knack for getting the bat head on the ball also give him the potential to have an above average BABIP in pro ball. Not only does Happ’s propensity for hitting the ball hard give him a shot at a high BABIP, but it is an indicator that he will be able to make the most of his above average raw power. Happ’s raw power could stands out even more if he can stick at a position in the middle of the diamond, like second base or centerfield.

The weakest point for Happ at the plate is his ability to adjust to off-speed pitches consistently. He, like most young hitters, has difficulty consistently hitting off-speed pitches with authority, though he shows what scouts are looking for in flashes. Happ is already a very good hitter with a chance to take off if he continues to improve in this area. The video and data drawn from Happ’s batted balls on the Cape support his case as a top 2 round draft pick, on the strength of his above average hit, power and speed tools.

Draft Stock
I have Happ 13th, but that’s more a reflection of the poor 2015 draft class right now than scouts thinking he’s a possible top 10 pick in the abstract. Happ can likely play up the middle and has the hitting tools you want to take a college bat that high, but some teams are wary of the bat and others think he’s a corner guy, which is why some have him in the sandwich or 2nd round.

It’s still early and most scouts haven’t seen him for more than a handful of games, so disagreement is expected at this stage, but Happ seems very likely to find a home somewhere in the top two rounds. If he performs well this spring and the top of the 1st round stays as weak as it is now, then the middle of the first round is a strong possibility.

Product Summary

With camera angles on each open side, tight angle behind home and wide angle behind home, OnDeckDigital gives MLB draft rooms the premium video from the Cape they want for deliberations, but also gives them a chance to break down the batted ball profile of top draft prospects. Since this is a new dataset, we need a bigger sample of batted ball info to give context to one player’s profile, which is why we included elements of a scouting report in the batted ball analysis. With these tools and at this early juncture of the draft process, this promises to potentially have all the information a scouting department would have at this point when discussing where Happ belongs on their draft board.

Kiley McDaniel has worked as an executive and scout, most recently for the Atlanta Braves, also for the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates. He's written for ESPN, Fox Sports and Baseball Prospectus. Follow him on twitter.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
9 years ago

What Cape stats are you idiots looking at? Happ hit .293 as a freshman on the Cape and .329 as a sophomore in 2014. Saw him hit a change up at Chatham 400ft into a 30mph headwind… no trouble adjusting to offspeed.

Check stats you aren’t even close: http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/profile.asp?P=ian-happ

9 years ago
Reply to  montypepper

What a dick. Also, does this mean we’ll see more ODD video for others in the future?