It really shouldn’t be news that a 24 year old former Top 5 overall draft pick who is clearly the best player at his position has earned a roster spot on Opening Day. That said, there have long been many roster shenanigans in play as part of the business of baseball, with service time manipulation a big, big part of how teams keep players under control for the longest, cheapest way possible.
Fortunately, that’s not the story this time around with Jonathan India and the Cincinnati Reds, as the club announced earlier on Wednesday that the rookie has made the roster for Thursday’s Opening Day.
There’s still some administrative work before that becomes official, however. The Reds roster is still currently full at 40, and since India is not yet one of those 40, someone’s going to lose a roster spot to facilitate that move. Further complicating things is the status of Joey Votto, who is still technically on the Injured List due to his COVID diagnosis during spring camp, and his availability to play tomorrow is going to come right down to the wire tomorrow.
The perpetual infield shuffle will depend on that decision, as it could mean Mike Moustakas - who earlier in camp moved from 2B to 3B after Eugenio Suarez moved from 3B to 2B, a move that was spurred on by India’s emergence as a 2B option - could move back across the diamond to 1B until Votto returns. That would take a left-handed bat off the roster if Votto is absent, which could give lefty-swinging Max Schrock the inside track to a roster spot over righty Alex Blandino, who has an option remaining.
Anyway, this news confirms that India will not only be a big leaguer, but likely in the lineup as the starting 2B pretty much every day, which is something none of us truly envisioned after his injury-plagued 2019 season in the minors and a 2020 spent out of the spotlight at the Reds alternate sight. Still, his impressive plate discipline and reemerging power has paired nicely with his solid defense at 2B all spring, and he certainly looks the part of a worthy big leaguer.
(Who’d have guessed a month ago than on the eve of Opening Day the only two certainties in the Cincinnati infield would be 2B Jonathan India and SS Eugenio Suarez?)
Congrats to Jonathan, and here’s to him hitting the ground in regular season play the way he did in Cactus League play all March.