Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com has released another mock draft after previously having the Yankees taking high school catcher Chris Betts with the 16th overall pick of the 2015 draft. This time around, he has them going for a college outfield/middle infield bat in Ian Happ from the University of Cincinnati.
Considered a true first-rounder, Happ was ranked as the 17th best prospect in the 2015 MLB Draft Baseball America and 20th overall by MLB.com. The outfielder made a name for himself in the Cape Cod league when scouts graded him out to have 65-grade speed and 55-raw power after his Freshman year. Despite his 6-foot, 200-pound body, Happ is considered to be a great athlete, allowing him to play shortstop, second base, and center field. According to Fangraphs, he's a pretty even switch-hitter from both sides of the plate–which can be rare at the amateur level–he has strong hands and wrists and possesses a good eye and solid power to all fields. They currently have him with a 55-grade hit, power, and speed tool with a 45-field and 55-throw.
While his versatility is a plus, at the same time, many scouts feel that his future relies specifically on where he ultimately ends up in the field. While he's shown an above-average hit-tool and power, many question if he will be able to handle off-speed stuff at the next level. He was also recently clocked to have a 55-run, so either he's already lost a step or he was suffering from an injury at the time, but if he doesn't return to a 65, he won't make it as a center fielder and he'd likely be destined for second base or a corner outfield spot at that point.
Sure, it sounds like there's already some worry about how athletic he will be going forward, but he seems to have an advanced bat in some areas. If he does have an issue with offspeed pitches, he will get exposed pretty quickly in the minors, so hopefully that is something that will improve with time. Scouts already say he possesses a good eye at the plate, so it could be a matter of seeing offspeed pitches more often and getting professional guidance as he faces them. He is currently hitting .369/.492/.672 with 12 stolen bases, a career-high 14 strikeouts, 49 walks and 49 strikeouts over 252 plate appearances, so there are things he does well and some things he may need to work on. If he's still determined to be defensively on the fence come draft time, the Yankees will likely take him as an outfielder and see if he can't handle second base before they give center field a try. In the end, Happ could be just the type of advanced outfield bat the Yankees might take a chance on and see if they can't iron out the wrinkles or another middle infield project, like Rob Refsnyder before him.