When the Cincinnati Reds drafted Jonathan India out of Florida in June he was not going to sign right away. India and the Gators were literally playing in the College World Series at the time the pick was announced. It would be nearly a month before he would put ink to paper and officially join the Reds organization. There were a few questions at the time – where would he be assigned, and perhaps more importantly, where would he play on the field.

One of those questions was answered rather quickly as Jonathan India packed up his bags and made his way to Greeneville, Tennessee to join the newest affiliate in the Reds chain. Things didn’t get out exactly as hoped for India. He began his professional career by going 0-12. But, he was getting on base plenty, as he walked six times in those four games. The hits just didn’t find the grass when he was making contact. Since then, the 5th overall draft pick has gone absolutely bonkers on the Appalachian League.

It’s only been nine total games, and in those last five he’s hit .471/.591/1.059 – good for an OPS of 1.650. That includes five extra-base hits, and twice as many walks, four, as strikeouts, two. After not playing for a few weeks it seems that his timing has come back and, well, he’s probably too advanced for this level of play. At least offensively.

Let’s focus on the offense before diving into the defense. Let me preface this by saying that I was only in Greeneville for three games when Jonathan India was playing. But, as the title of this article suggests, he looks the part. The ball is loud off of his bat. He’s got bat speed, and it translates along with his strength for plenty of power – now and in the future. Look at the video above and where the pitch his home run was located at. That ball went 410 feet. That isn’t a pitch a right handed hitter should be able to hit 410 feet. That’s down-and-in to a lefty.

The power is certainly impressive. But it was far from the only thing that stood out. Throughout the three games the Pirates tried to pitch him on the outer third of the plate. Over and over that’s where they would go. Jonathan India would either take pitches just off of the plate – fastballs and offspeed stuff – showing a strong understanding of the strikezone, or he’s punish the ones just inside the strikezone. He used the entire field, and did so with authority.

Jonathan India and where he fits defensively

As I noted, I only saw three games in Greeneville this week with Jonathan India on the field. Two of those games saw him play third base. On Sunday afternoon, with Barry Larkin in town, India was taking ground balls at shortstop during infield/batting practice. Larkin was showing him some things at the position. On Monday night the former Gator would make his professional debut at shortstop for the Greeneville Reds.

In the first inning there was a routine ball hit right to him. And he committed an error on it. It wasn’t a great start. But, the rest of the game he looked good at the position and made a few nice plays. For me, however, it was the plays that he didn’t make that stood out. And I mean that in a good way. Two plays stick out to where he came up just short on balls that got through to the outfield, that I believed off of the bat were sure fire hits. The range he showed on the attempts was more than expected despite not being able to make the plays.

I’m not sure based on what I saw in 9-innings of baseball whether or not he can handle the position in the long term or not. What I do know is that I certainly feel comfortable saying he should be playing shortstop frequently to get a much better idea. The athleticism is certainly there. And at least on one night, the range seemed to be, too. Whether or not that’s in Greeneville is a different story. Miguel Hernandez has been the starting shortstop there, and he’s a very, very good defender, and is showing good signs with the bat, too.

21 Responses

  1. kevinz

    India to me is a Ballplayer where ever you put him he will adjust.
    He reminds me of bregman both smaller types but play with a Edge.
    Bregman is one of my favorite Players not on the Reds.
    Plays the game the right way If India turns our anything like Bregman call me a happy camper.

  2. Chris

    Doug any chance on unnamed podcast talking Harvey and trade possibilities l, what we might be able to procure, and if an outfielder or reliever might be moved to? Also, discussing Bailey and the travesty of potentially taking starts away from Big Sal or calling up Bob Steve from Louisville? Thanks.

  3. B-town Fan

    Doug I know it’s only one game playing shortstop, but how do you think India compares to Senzel at short, does he seem better suited and more athletic there than Senzel?

    • Doug Gray

      I never saw Senzel play shortstop in person, so I have no clue at all.

  4. Kap

    I don’t see a reason why India couldn’t move through the minor leagues at a quick pace with him landing in Dayton by the end of the season. 2020 to me seems like a reasonable assumption. The question is where will he play. With how the 2nd base situation is up in the air right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if that is where he will land

    • Colorado Red

      Cause the Reds do not like to move players very fast

  5. AirborneJayJay

    Anyone who saw India play for Florida this year knows India likes the ball on the outer third of the plate. Good power to the opposite field. He hit one vs. Arkansas that was an absolute blast to RCF. Impressive shot. I couldn’t find a replay anywhere, even you tube. It was on March 24th I believe.
    Doug or anybody else can find it please post it. Everybody should see that one. That was the day I became sold on India. It was a 1st inning grand slam against CWS finalist Arkansas. It was probably his best HR of his season.

  6. mark l

    I don’t even think the pitch he homered on was even a strike. catcher was set up down in zone and lowered his glove as the pitch was coming. That is very impressive.

  7. Mike

    Doug, I met Jonathan after the game that he hit his first homerun in Kingsport. He was an impressive young man who signed a baseball for my daughter. Absolutely professional in every way. The Reds really have something with this kid.

  8. Krozley

    I know it is not the Reds way, but I’d consider moving India to Daytona to play shortstop the rest of the year. Daal, Vargas, and AlfRod are hurt so they are stuck currently with Alberti Chavez and his .459 OPS. 3B is a bit of a hole as well if he ends up being not ready for SS. The Dayton shortstops are not ready to move up. Seems like he would be an improvement, even if he has some bumps from the challenge of the higher league. If he did well, he could start at Pensacola next year.

    • Shamrock

      Yea, he’ll be 22 this winter.
      As a college bat i see no reason why he shouldn’t be fast-tracked.
      Also, to try him at a position we currently lack prospects at (SS) would definitely be ideal.
      Great post Krozley.

    • CP

      Love this idea Krozley! But I would be surprised to see the Reds do it….

  9. Simon Cowell

    The Reds need to take one of their offensive assets at the low minors and get them playing first base. What is Joey Votto going to be like in 3 or 4 years?

    • Stock

      I agree with Shaggy in that Winker or Suarez could be there in 2024 when Joey’s contract ends. Also there are prospects in rookie ball who may have what it takes to succeed in the show. Spillane at Billings has potential. Rylan Thomas has a .200 BABIP but if not for that may be hitting .300. Even with the .200 BABIP his OPS is .972. Finally Danny Santana is only 17 but is playing 1B in AZ.

    • MK

      From what I heard today there was a pole taken among National League teams and there is a possibility there will be a DH in next four years, Clark from Players Assoc. said they would approve. So that could be what Votto looks like in 3 or 4 years.

      • MK

        Bet his National League teammates wish he was a DH tonight after his error leading to the HR.

  10. shaggy

    I could totally see someone like winker take over at first base or even Saurez in the not to distant future, especially if there ends up being a universal DH in both leagues.

  11. kevinz

    What injury is scooter dealing with to not play in ASG?
    Is it the Shoulder still? that might be why Herrera is up for when Scooter is Done for year?

  12. kevinz

    scooter crushed that ball really stinks see hurting though.