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.