Switch-hitting is a disappearing skill in Major League Baseball, but Cubs first-round draft pick Ian Happ credits the ability for much of his success.
In a recent interview with MiLB.com, Happ opened up about his unique ability to be a plus hitter from both sides of the plate.
“It’s definitely been a long process,” said Happ, who played collegiately at Cincinnati. “I started working on switch-hitting when I was 8. My brother Chris was 6 years older — when he was 13, 14-years-old, he tried to do it but couldn’t stick with it. He ended up being just a right-handed hitter, but he made sure that I stuck with it.”
Happ was able to develop into a full-time switch-hitter as a freshman in high school.
“For me, it’s been a huge part of my development,” Happ said of being a switch-hitter. “I’ve developed as both a right-handed hitter and a left-handed hitter. Now I would never want to face a lefty throwing curveballs from behind you. Same thing for a right-hander. Switch-hitting has been a big part of my success.
“What’s been really big for me, especially in pro ball, and in the summer in college, is seeing more left-handed pitching,” he continued. “You just see so many righties in college baseball and definitely in high school.”
The Cubs drafted the 6-foot, 205-pound 21-year-old center fielder with the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft. He was the only switch-hitter taken in the first round.
The L.A. Times reported earlier this month that there are only 19 switch hitters in the majors on pace for 502 at-bats this season.
“Left-handed, I’m going to use the whole field a little bit better,” Happ said. “As a right-handed hitter, I’m more of a middle-to-left guy. I’m definitely two different hitters. The ball comes off the bat two different ways. People tell me the swing looks the same, but it definitely doesn’t feel the same.”