Reds’ top pick eyes College World Series title with Florida

Jonathan India leads Gators in most offensive categories

Jonathan India will have a different story to tell than most players about the moment he was drafted. He was playing third base for the Florida Gators in a NCAA tournament regional game in Gainesville, Fla., when the Cincinnati Reds selected him with the fifth pick of the first round around 7:30 p.m. Monday.

“I saw my family where they usually sit, and I saw them all hugging,” India said on a conference call Tuesday. “I was like, ‘Oh, that’s pretty weird. I guess something good happened.’”

Then fans started yelling at India from the stands.

“Congrats, Jon!”

“Go, Reds!”

At that point, India knew what had happened. His goal was to continue to focus on the game. The Gators lost 7-4 to Florida Atlantic but beat FAU in the second game of the night 5-2 — thanks in part two RBIs and a home run by India — to advance to the NCAA Super Regional.

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“I still have a goal to win a national championship for this team,” India said. “I’m not thinking ahead. Just finish the season out.”

The Gators (45-18), who had four players selected in the first 56 picks, host Auburn in the next round, starting Saturday in Gainesville. They seek their 12th College World Series appearance.

India leads Florida in batting average (.360), on-base percentage (.500) home runs (16), RBIs (47) and even stolen bases (12).

“He’s a runner,” said Dick Williams, Reds director of player personnel. “It’s more instinctual base-running. It’s not the blazing, top-end speed. (Nick) Senzel’s probably a faster runner. But he’s a very athletic fast runner.”

India will be compared to Senzel, another third baseman from the Southeastern Conference, for as long as they’re both in the Reds system. Senzel was the Reds’ No. 2 pick in 2016 out of Tennessee. They both played third base in college but also have experience at other positions.

This season, with Triple-A Louisville, Senzel has played 17 games at second base and 10 at third. India has experience at shortstop as well as third base.

“I played shortstop my whole life leading up to Florida,” India said. “Third base was new to me. I never played third. I always played short. I’m a versatile player. We’ll see where I’m at the next level.”

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