On Friday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks the Cincinnati Reds penciled in Jonathan India at second base. The prospect, who is a part of “early minor league camp” rather than big league camp (though they really aren’t being treated as completely different entities like they have been in the past) took advantage of the playing time. He was hit by a pitch in his first trip to the plate, but it was the laser show he put on in his second trip to the plate that jumped out as he just obliterated a ball on a line onto the roof in right field.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) March 6, 2021
After the game, manager David Bell had some praise for the now 24-year-old infielder.
“He’s right on track,” said Bell. “We couldn’t be happier with where he is. Last year it was impressive seeing him, you could obviously tell he was a good player. But in some ways it’s been pretty remarkable the difference one year makes. I think he had a very successful time at Prasco – I think he made the most of it and it’s really showing up. The reports coming out of there – just everything about him, they way he was playing defense, the at-bats he was having. Probably more than anything that stands out is the level of toughness. He loves to play, and natural leadership qualities, just be being who he is – for a young player to stand out like that, it’s been impressive. We’re very happy with where he is.”
Injuries have been a bit of an issue for Jonathan India since he was selected 5th overall in the 2018 draft. There hasn’t been something that’s kept him off of the field for extended periods of time, but he’s played through a wrist injury – one that ultimately did cost him about half of the Arizona Fall League season in 2019 – and had other little things here and there that have likely limited his production some.
In 2020 there was no minor league season to be played. But Major League Baseball did implement the alternate sites for the players in the 60-man player pool who weren’t in the big leagues. The Reds invited Jonathan India, along with several other prospects not on the 40-man roster to participate. Much like David Bell, I was getting reports that were glowing on what India was doing at Prasco Park.
Jonathan India was healthy (until an oblique injury cut his “season” short near the very end). And the things he had been figuring out in the second half of 2019 in Chattanooga were really starting to take hold in 2020 and the combination of the two were leading to more power output than he had shown before as a professional. His defense was also expanding as he began to see more and more action away from third base and began to play plenty of second base.
For now, India is still blocked at both of those positions with Eugenio Suárez and Mike Moustakas there at the big league level. But having the ability to cover both could open up the opportunity to fill in at either if there’s an injury in the future. It could also help him land a spot as a utility player on the roster if the team decides that’s the best option at some point rather than keeping him in the minor leagues.
Both Suárez and Moustakas are under contract for at least the next three seasons. That’s a long time to make a guy who is already 24-years-old wait around if he’s ready. Too many good options is never a problem. But soon enough there might come a time where the organization may need to try and figure out another way to get Jonathan India into the lineup, or perhaps pursue another option to maximize the value he can bring.