Reds: Dee Strange-Gordon’s release gives Jonathan India the green light

Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India (71) rounds the bases on a solo home run.
Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India (71) rounds the bases on a solo home run. /

Jonathan India, the former No. 5 overall pick to the Cincinnati Reds in the 2018 MLB Draft, appears to be on the brink of finally making an impact at the major league level. The 24-year-old is slashing a robust .344/.475/.625 in 32 at-bats this spring, while seeing plenty of time at second base. The Reds can’t afford to screw this up; India must be on the Opening Day roster.

India is a natural third baseman, drafted out of the University of Florida in 2018. He has, however, played second base, shortstop, and third base during his professional career. India spent all of last season at the Reds alternate site, and was reportedly quite impressive.

With Dee Strange-Gordon gone, the Reds have cleared a path for Jonathan India.

India also believes that he could have made his major league debut last year, if not for injury. The Reds had extremely high expectations for India after selecting him one pick ahead of now-Mariners outfielder Jarred Kelenic, the No. 4 overall prospect in baseball according to inMLB Pipeline.

Jonathan India’s OPS of 1.057 this spring is fourth-best on the team. Eugenio Suarez has been seeing game action at shortstop and Mike Moustakas has been moved to third base, presumably giving India the opportunity to start at second base to open the 2021 season. The recent release of Dee Strange-Gordon only makes that scenario more likely.

FanGraphs projections currently has India at a .231/.315/.689 split in 406 at-bats with 12 home runs and 43 RBIs. I think those projections are low and there is plenty of potential in India to post a 2.0+ WAR season if he gets consistent playing time.

Service time concerns could keep India in the minors for a month, or potentially more, but if Cincinnati want to be competitive, starting the season with India at the keystone would prove it. India has seven total years of team-control, so why not start him now in a season when the Reds could win the NL Central?

Next. 3 biggest X-factors for the Reds in 2021

India is a bright young player, who is known for his bat, and would be a good addition to a lineup that hit a league-worst .212 in 2020. David Bell has to find a way to improve the team’s hitting, and since the front office failed to bring in an established shortstop, inserting India into the starting lineup seems like the most logical way to do so.