Reds prospect India says he’s ready for big leagues

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Jonathan India interview (Feb. 27, 2021)

Former first-round pick climbed to Double-A in 2019

Jonathan India showed his power Friday in his fifth Catcus League appearance of spring training for the Cincinnati Reds.

India, the No. 5 draft pick in the first round in 2018, hit a line-drive home run to right field against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He hit 11 home runs in his first two seasons in the minors but knows that’s not his game.

“I feel more like a gap hitter,” India said. “The power will be there, but I’m not trying to be a home run hitter.”

This will be India’s fourth season in pro baseball. He spent last season training at the Reds’ alternate site in Mason. This season, he was one of the minor-league prospects invited to train with the big-league players in Goodyear, Ariz. Baseball American ranks India as the Reds’ third-best prospect behind shortstop Jose Garcia and outfielder Austin Hendrick, the team’s first-round pick in 2020.

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India hit .227 in 15 Cactus League games with the Reds before spring training was suspended last March. This spring, he hit .250 in his first six appearances.

“I feel very comfortable out there,” India said. “It’s a lot different this year with COVID and the protocols we’ve got. We’re spread out a lot. But I’m excited to be here. I’m ready for this year. I feel really strong. I’m healthy. I’m ready to go.”

India has spent the majority of his professional career playing third base but also has seen action at shortstop and second base. The shortstop position is one of the focuses for the Reds this spring with Dee Strange-Gordon, Kyle Farmer and Garcia the most likely players to win the job.

“I played shortstop my whole life before college,” India said. “I was a shortstop in high school and even when I was young. I played a little in college. I’m always ready for shortstop. That’s my favorite position. I’m going to play where they tell me.”

India started his pro career with the Greeneville Reds at the rookie level in 2018 and was promoted to the Single-A Dayton Dragons later that season. In 2019, he started the season with the Single-A Daytona Tortugas and earned a promotion to the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts in July.

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India said he’s ready for the big leagues in 2021.

“I was ready last year, but I got hurt,” he said. “It’s really not my decision. I’ve got to play to the best of my abilities. I know what I can do. I believe I’m a big leaguer.”

Even though there wasn’t a minor league season in 2020 because of the pandemic, India benefitted from his experience in Mason.

“I grew a lot as a player,” he said. “I perfected some things in my game that weren’t there yet. It was a good place for me. I was happy I had an opportunity to be there. I worked my butt off there.”

Notes: Reds first baseman Joey Votto has four hits in his first nine at-bats in spring training. Manager David Bell said Monday Votto just looks different at the plate this spring.

“I know he’s made some changes, and I think it’s shown up,” Bell said. “You look at the results. He’s had some hits which is always nice even if you’ve had the career he’s had. To get off to a good start is great.”