The 2018 rule 4 draft, commonality known as Major League Baseball’s amateur draft, will start on Monday, June 4th. The New York Mets have the sixth selection.
Who should they draft?
One name immediately jumps out. Jonathan India, third baseman, from the defending National Champion Florida Gators. India is listed at 6 feet tall, weighing an even 200 pounds. He is currently Baseball America’s number five ranked prospect, and has soared up the draft board during an impressive spring season.
India was a high school All-American for American Heritage high school in Florida, and is originally from Coral Springs. He was drafted in the 26th round out of high school, by the Milwaukee Brewers, but chose to play at Florida, instead.
He was immediately inserted into the Gators line up, playing in 67 games that year. As a sophomore, he battled an elbow injury, which limited him playing time during the season. He still played an instrumental role in helping Florida win its first ever National Champion in 2017.
Now a junior, he has become the most feared hitter for the top ranked team in the county. He was batting .416/.549/.839 with 14 home runs, 11 stolen bases and more walks (35) than strikeouts (30). He has both slugging ability and command of the strike zone. Two areas that drive scouts wild. Add to that his plus base running ability, and his contact skills, it is easy to see how he is looking like a top ten selection.
India is not all bat though. He features a plus glove, plus range, and a solid arm. Some scouts believe he could play short stop at the major league level, for less defensively minded clubs. Some scouts even believe he could move effortlessly to second base.
First round picks are always risky. Select wrong, especially in the top ten, and it could set the organization back several years.
Third base is different though. Fifteen college third basemen have been selected top ten in the 31 drafts since 1987, which marks the modern draft era. All but one of those players have went on to become successful major league players.
College third baseman tend to be the best sluggers in the game. Think Ryan Braun, Mark Teixeira and Kris Bryant. Because they are so highly regarded, scouts tend to set the bar even higher. If a player is able to pass the scouts lofty judgment, chances are the guy can really hit.
And India is not exception.
On April 26, of this year, against Auburn, India took the second pitch he saw from probably number one overall pick Casey Mize, over the wall for a home run. If he was not considered a first round pick before then, he certainly was after.
American Heritage coach Carm Mazza said his first reaction to seeing India this year was simple. “I went, ‘Wow,’” Mazza said. “You can see the same kid just becoming a man. He steps in the box and there’s a presence . . . You knew things like this were coming”
India has also had success already with the wooden bat, a concern of many scouts when evaluating college players.
India played the last two summers in the prestigious Cape Cod summer league. In 2016, he had a slash line of .290/.405/.403. Following the Gators national championship, he slashed .273/.390/.394 in the same league.
“I let my ability take over, and I just play the game I’ve known how to play since I was 5,” India said. “It’s really been working out and I’m stronger mentally” India has said
India has a solid approach at the plate, great base running instincts, and is a plus defender. These tools could make him an top ten pick in this years Major League Baseball draft. Jonathan could be ready for the majors in two years. If he is there for the Mets at pick number six, the Mets would be wise to select him.