To say the 2019 season for Cincinnati Reds prospect Jonathan India was a ‘success’ would certainly be a bit of a stretch.
India, the #5 overall pick of the 2018 MLB Draft, hit just .259/.365/.402 between A+ Daytona and AA Chattanooga last season, surface stats that tell a tale of relative mediocrity in the context of ‘top prospects.’ It was enough for him to drop completely out of Baseball Prospectus’ list of the Top 101 prospects in all of baseball just one year removed from checking in at #35 on their list, while each of MLB Pipeline, FanGraphs, and Baseball America showed similar dips in confidence that the 3B/2B still maintains elite prospect status.
Today, though, MLB Pipeline again showed confidence that there’s still something to India, listing him as the ‘best pure hitter’ in the Reds system at the moment.
Hitters gonna hit.— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 30, 2020
Here's the best pure hitter in each #MLB farm system: https://t.co/ftlPVQzAuV pic.twitter.com/OjcFw5gEvt
It is completely reasonable if the first reaction you had to said anointment was that it was equal part an indictment of the quality of hitters currently in the Reds minor leagues. Nick Senzel has graduated while both Taylor Trammell and Jeter Downs departed via trade, and the system as a whole is certainly not burgeoning with elite hitting talent at the moment. Still, it’s the kind of tab that probably deserves a bit of diving into the underlying reasons behind it, ones that even include that ‘disappointing’ 2019 campaign we already mentioned.
The thing is, the Florida State League is a tremendous pitching-friendly league, and the bulk of the PA logged by India last year came in those caverns. It’s a similar story to that of Jose Garcia, whose 2019 numbers looked more respectable than elite until you put them into the context of the FSL. India’s deserve that context, too, as the .256/.346/.410 line he put up there in 367 PA seems decidedly ho-hum. Still, of the 91 players who logged at least 250 PA in the FSL last year, his 125 wRC+ ranked 15th best, just a hair behind teammates Garcia (131, 8th) and Stuart Fairchild (130, t-9th) - both of whom saw their stocks rise due to those performances.
Not elite, certainly, but not at all bad, especially when you factor in the wrist injury he played through (as MLB Pipeline mentioned).
What’s equally as promising was India’s work once promoted to AA Chattanooga, also a pitcher-friendly park in a rather pitcher-friendly league. India’s noted plate discipline saw a definitive spike once promoted, and his 15.2% walk rate ranked as the 4th best among the 138 Southern League players who logged at least 150 PA at the level last season. That fueled a tidy .414 OBP, which ranked 3rd best out of that same sample. It’s impossible to ignore the lack of power he showed once promoted, but again, there’s hope that was due as much to the wrist issue as anything, and his 138 overall wRC+ with Chattanooga was good for 22nd out of those 138 players with at least 150 PA.
Very small samples, these are. That’s simply the case when evaluating fast-moving minor leaguers. What they do help highlight, however, is that there was still very much to be excited about around a guy who once was thought of highly enough to take 5th overall in the MLB Draft, and perhaps he needs nothing more than better health to begin rounding those promising traits into one more dominant form.
Of course, he’ll need for there to actually be some baseball to help put it all on display once again.
In other news, MLB Trade Rumors explored what sort of contract Reds starter Trevor Bauer might land this next offseason, assuming there is ever actually an onseason to end this current offseason and then beget a future offseason in which he has exhausted his team control and reached free agency. It’ll likely be the kind of contract that reflects his status as one of the top starting pitchers on the market at that point, something MLBTR also looked at today (a list that also includes a shoutout to fellow Reds hurler Anthony DeSclafani). Considering that’s 2/5ths of the current Reds rotation, you’d be wise to pay attention to all the names on that list, as the 2021 Reds will certainly be looking to make an addition from it should both Bauer and Disco depart in free agency.
In case you closed out that FanGraphs tab, I’ll swing you back over there again. Our friend Tony Wolfe went through a thorough look at the various proposals for how a modified baseball season might work logistically, which is wonderful because of how damn many moving parts there are in the varying ideas. Divisions, locations, how rosters shake out, where the minor leagues go (if at all) all seem quite up in the air at the moment, so we thank Tone Blog for helping us walk through the pros and cons of each bit.
The Baseball Hall of Fame officially cancelled their 2020 induction ceremony, meaning there will be no joy in
Mudville Cooperstown this summer. Instead, the Derek Jeter Bonanza will be rolled into the 2021 induction ceremony in a mighty double-tap.
As Baseball America noted, the Reds are expected to spend big in the international free agent market this summer, including on the sweet lefty swing of one Ariel Almonte, which you can see by giving this linky link a clicky click.
Oh look, it’s a virtual visit to Bryce Canyon National Park, in case you feel you’re getting a bit of cabin fever.
48 year old Manny Ramirez wants to make a comeback, WHICH IS AWESOME.
Finally, this is the single dumbest thing I could find on UPI’s site dedicated purely to odd news, so I feel obligated to pass it along to you fine folks.