Happ is batting .209 with a .681 OPS and 25 strikeouts through 18 games with Triple-A Iowa.
It was somewhat of a surprise when Happ was demoted to Triple-A to begin the season, and the 24-year-old has not responded particularly well. He's still struggling to make consistent contact, as evidenced by the .209 average and 33.3 percent strikeout rate. Happ did pop his second home run of the year Monday, but at this point, a return to the majors does not seem imminent.
Happ was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on Saturday, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports.
Happ managed an above-average 106 wRC+ last season despite striking out 36.1 percent of the time. He cut the strikeout rate to 25.0 percent this spring but is hitting just .135/.196/.192. His defensive versatility and decent bat should give him paths back to the big-league roster, but he'll need some time in the minors to sort his swing out first.
Happ went 0-for-2 with a walk and two strikeouts in Thursday's Cactus League game against the Giants and is slashing .143/.208/.204 through 49 at-bats this spring.
It's been a sluggish start for Happ, which has been compounded by the fact that his main competition for playing time in center field, Albert Almora, has a .976 OPS this spring. Happ's versatility should still get him on the field fairly often in 2019, but it'd be nice to see him get a little hot streak going before the regular season starts.
Happ has recorded six hits in 41 at-bats (.146 batting average) during Cactus League play while chipping in six RBI, four runs and a stolen base.
Happ is sitting on a lowly .205 on-base average through his 13 spring outings, but on a more positive note, he's struck out in only 18.1 percent of his plate appearances. While the usual caveats regarding small samples apply here, that rate is a stark downturn from the 36.1 percent mark he posted throughout the 2018 campaign. Happ will likely have to settle for a part-time role to begin 2019, but if the improvement he's shown in making contact holds, he could push for more action at a multitude of spots around the diamond or in the outfield.
Happ will likely remain in a center field timeshare with Albert Almora and, to a lesser extent, Jason Heyward in 2019 based on matchups, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports.
Happ should get plenty of playing time after racking up 462 plate appearances in 2018, though his .608 OPS against lefty starters (compared to .816 against right-handers) could limit his opportunities against southpaws, especially because Almora hits them well. Happ's versatility and power potential will still get him in the lineup often, but his value figures to remain somewhat capped due to the timeshare.
|5/14/2019 vs Cincinnati|
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