There had been a number of players connected to the Cincinnati Reds for the first round of this year’s MLB Draft, though that’s usually what happens when you have the #5 overall pick and it’s not 100% clear how things are going to shake out with earlier picks. Nick Madrigal, the talented shortstop from Oregon State University, had been a name mentioned as a possiblity for the Reds, but after he was taken by the Chicago White Sox at #4, the Reds turned to University of Florida infielder Jonathan India with their selection.
India, 21, hit a robust .362/.502/.723 for the Gators in their dominant 2018 campaign, as the righty-swinger hit 17 dingers while playing both shortstop and 3B for them. That was certainly a breakout for him, as he’d posted an OPS of .807 as a freshman and just .783 as a sophomore, but the 6’0” 185 product of American Heritage High School (Plantation, FL) obviously found his power stroke as he matured in his junior season. Perhaps just as intriguing was his increasingly improved plate discipline, as he walked as many times as he struck out in his junior campaign (47/47).
Also of note - and a trend that the Reds have seemingly followed for several years now - is that India spent two summers playing in the Cape Cod League, in which hitters eschew the aluminum swat-sabers they use in the college game in favor of wooden bats. He showed rather well in his time there, too, hitting .281/.397/.398 with 23 walks against 25 strikeouts in 36 games played, all of which preceded his junior year at Florida where his power truly began to flourish.
On the other side of the ball, things get even more fun to break down. While he spent much of his time at shortstop during his college career - and still has many scouts suggesting he can play there still - he’s already listed as a 3B in MLB.com’s draft breakdown, with David Adler also acknowledging that his athleticism and strong arm should still allow him to play all around the infield if so desired. That paired with scouts raving that his breakout junior season deservedly should have had him rocketing up draft boards sure reminds me of another former SEC standout in Nick Senzel.
Speaking of Senzel, it’ll certainly be interesting to see how the Reds manage their burgeoning wealth of prospects capable of manning infield positions, especially with the presence and performance of Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett at the moment. That’s obviously a wonderful ‘problem’ for them to be facing at the moment, and one that I’m also certain will have plenty of time to sort itself out. In the meantime, it certainly seems that the Reds got a quality, quality prospect at #5 despite a trio of position players coming off the board in front of him, and that’s hopefully another brick in the foundation of the seemingly never-ending rebuild.
Welcome to the Reds, Jonathan.