As the Chicago Cubs continue to pare down their roster before Opening Day, one of their top prospects is on his way to minor league camp after a fantastic spring with the squad.
That prospect is Ian Happ, who is one of three players that were sent down to the team’s minor league camp in a round of roster moves Monday. Happ has been bounding the cover off the ball all spring long, blasting five home runs and driving in 17 RBI to lead the Cubs in both categories. He also batted .417 for the team during the Cactus League season.
With a deep roster that includes a ton of players at both second base and left field, the positions where Happ has primarily played in the minors and in Arizona Fall League, making the team out of spring training was always a very slim possibility, but Monday’s move puts any speculation to an end.
According to Cubs G.M. Jed Hoyer, Happ will begin the season with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, and there’s certainly a chance that he could make his way to the big leagues if injury necessitates it before the September call-up window.
Two other players were also sent down to minor league camp, as outfielder John Andreoli and catcher Taylor Davis were both trimmed from the Cubs’ roster. Andreoli, who starred for Team Italy during the World Baseball Classic, batted a paltry .167 in 19 games with the Cubs, striking out 14 times and hitting just one home run.
Davis had four RBI and three walks in 30 at-bats for the Cubs, and he batted an even .300 on the spring campaign.
Two more players were sent down to the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate as well, including pitcher Rob Zastryzny. Zastryzny pitched for the Cubs during the 2016 postseason, but with a crowded bullpen and multiple options for long relievers and spot starters, he couldn’t quite beat anybody out for a job with the big league roster.
Spring hero Eddie Butler was also sent down despite being one of the best pitchers the Cubs have had in Cactus League play. Butler posted a 5-0 record in five appearances for the Cubs, striking out seven batters and posting a 0.95 WHIP in 14 innings of work.
The Cubs will need to finish cutting down their roster to 25 players by Sunday night, when they take on the St. Louis Cardinals in their first game of the regular season at Busch Stadium.