Jonathan India took his first steps onto the field at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday. He wore a No. 18 jersey, signifying the year he was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds, and was accompanied by his parents and sister.
The former Florida Gators third baseman India, who the Reds selected with the No. 5 overall pick in June, signed with the Reds earlier in the day. The deal is worth $5.3 million, according to a report by MLB.com.
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“It’s amazing,” India said. “It’s a dream come true of mine to be at this step of my life. It’s taken a lot of sacrifices in life to get here. I’m just so happy it finally came to this day.”
India expects to start play at the rookie level with the Greeneville Reds in Tennessee later this week. The Reds haven’t told him what position he’ll play.
“I played shortstop my whole life until Florida,” India said. “That’s just the way it worked out over there. I still feel I’m a shortstop, but I can play anywhere.”
India is from Coral Springs, Fla., and American Heritage High School. This was his first trip to Cincinnati.
“The Reds, there’s a lot of history,” he said. “I think it was the first team in Major League Baseball. I’m a kid from South Florida. I’m not really used to seeing the Reds play. We’ve got the Marlins down there. I’m just excited to get this honor and to be part of this organization now. I’m really happy.”
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India led the Gators with a .350 average and 21 home runs as a junior. He described himself as a hard-nosed player who likes to win.
“I go 110 percent every time on the field no matter how I feel that day,” India said. “I’m just a kid with a fiery attitude.”
Two other Reds draft picks met with reporters in the Reds dugout on Tuesday before the second game of a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox.
Mike Siani: A fourth-round pick who plays center field, Siani comes to the Reds after graduating from the William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia. He had signed to play at the University of Virginia but chose to sign with the Reds and begin his pro career. His deal was reportedly worth $2 million.
“I wasn’t sure at all,” Siani said. “I was just letting the situation play out. Fortunately, the Reds came up with the amount of money that was going to make it happen.”
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Siani, who will also start his minor league career in Greeneville, said he wants to be a five-tool player.
“Every facet of the game is important to me,” Siani said. “I want to hit for power, hit for average and be a defensive plus in the outfield. I just want to be an all-around type of player.”
Michael Byrne: The 14th-round pick, a right-handed pitcher, played with India at the University of Florida. Their season continued until June 22 when they lost to Arkansas in the College World Series. Byrne had a 1.61 ERA and 16 saves in 37 relief appearances.
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Bryne expects to begin his career with the Single-A Daytona Tortugas. While the Reds plan to use him as a reliever this year, he said they want him to transition into a starting role next year.
“I want to start,” Byrne said. “I want to have the ball every fifth day. I get nervous watching the games. I’d rather be pitching.”