If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few hours maybe you missed the news that the Cincinnati Reds have signed Mike Moustakas to a 4-year and $64M deal.While he’s spent an overwhelmingly large portion of his career at third base, in 2019 he played about a third of the season at second base. And that is where the Reds plan on using him.
That gives the Cincinnati Reds four years of Eugenio Suarez at third base, Mike Moustakas at second base, and Joey Votto at first base. Shortstop…. well, that position has yet to be determined. What this does do, though, is basically take every prospect in the farm system that’s an infielder who can’t play shortstop, and put them on the outside looking in for a long time.
And when we take a look at the shortstops on the farm, it’s Jose Garcia and then a whole lot of question marks. Some of those question marks have potential, for sure, but they’ve got a lot of stuff to still prove, too. The signing of Mike Moustakas puts the farm system in a rather interesting spot.
Let’s start near the very top of the system with Jonathan India. He rated as the Reds #6 prospect on our list here at RedsMinorLeagues.com. Baseball America rated him as the #2 prospect in the organization just last week. Either way you slice it – he’s a Top 100 prospect that for the foreseeable future, has nowhere to play on the infield for the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds dabbled with him at shortstop in 2018 after the draft a few times, but that didn’t work. He did start to see a little bit of action at second base in 2019, and went to the Arizona Fall League to continue working on that. But with Moustakas signing that seems to be out of the equation at this point.
There is no reason at all to believe that Jonathan India can’t play in the outfield. But he’s going to have to play in one of the corners. While he’s fast for his size, he’s not center fielder fast. And that brings up another situation: The Reds aren’t exactly without corner outfielders, either. Jesse Winker‘s an above-average big league hitter and has been every year in the Major Leagues. Aristides Aquino isn’t exactly established, but there’s a reason to believe he’s going to get a long look in 2020 to cement the right field job. Nick Senzel‘s the best prospect the Reds have had since Aroldis Chapman at the very least, and while he’s in center now, there’s nothing saying he can’t move to a corner spot if the team goes in a different direction in center.
Ultimately, though, the Cincinnati Reds farm system, and it’s prospects are in a situation where there is going to be a lot of intrigue. If you are an infielder who isn’t a shortstop or a catcher, and you are going to play for the Reds in the future – you better still be a teenager, or you may want to start looking at other positions on the field that you can play. Or perhaps start thinking about the idea that you could be traded because there’s not a spot open for the foreseeable future. Even a move into the outfield leaves one with a lot of guys to overcome. For the Reds, that’s never a bad thing.
The list of players in the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 prospect list that meet the requirements laid out above is fairly small, though. Obviously there’s Jonathan India. But beyond him there isn’t another non-teenage, non-shortstop infielder on the list. Rece Hinds, Tyler Callihan, and Michel Triana are all still teenagers. Jose Garcia, Braylin Minier, and Ivan Johnson are all shortstops.
The rumors have long persisted around Jonathan India and the trade market. But he is still a Cincinnati Red. Whether that continues to be the case or not could change. The path to the Major Leagues did just get a bit tougher for the former 1st round pick, though. Second base seemed to be the destination in front of him as recently as last month. Now it seems that he’s going to either need to find yet another position to play that he’s never played before, or be traded to another organization that has a quicker path to the Majors than waiting out big league contracts to expire.