Jonathan India was on first base in a pivotal NCAA Regional game Monday night when fans started calling out to him.
“Mid-pitch, fans were yelling, ‘Congrats, India!’” he said Tuesday.
While India and his Florida Gators were playing Florida Atlantic, the Cincinnati Reds selected the infielder and former American Heritage star with the fifth overall pick in the MLB Draft.
“It’s not the usual way to get drafted, when you’re actually playing baseball,” India said. “But it was fine with me because I’m playing the game I love. To get rewarded like that while you’re playing is pretty cool.”
His parents, John and Elizabeth, were in the stands at McKethan Stadium when they found out.
“Oddly enough, the area scout for the Reds came up to me just prior to the pick, and … he’s like, ‘I didn’t ruin the moment, did I?’” the elder India said.
“As soon as he said that, I kind of knew that the Reds were picking him.”
The slot value for the No. 5 pick is $5,946,400, and India said he almost certainly will sign.
“For sure,” India said, laughing, “there’s no question on that.”
India and the Gators won a decisive third game over the Owls and former American Heritage teammate Tyler Frank. The FAU infielder was also selected Monday night. Frank went 56th overall to the Tampa Bay Rays.
“I was so happy for him,” India said. “He worked so hard. … I’ve seen him work. I’ve seen how much work he’s put in, so I’m so happy for that kid.
“We talked for a little while after the game, talking about memories with Heritage and just how we came up playing with each other, now look where we’re at.”
After being named the Post’s All-Area Player of the Year in 2015, India went to Gainesville and had a strong freshman season, hitting .303 with four home runs. He was named to the SEC All-Freshman team and was named a freshman All-American by multiple publications.
Injuries slowed him as a sophomore, but India had a dominant junior year, and that’s what led to his skyrocketing draft stock. Through Monday, India has hit a team-best .360 with 19 home runs. He was named the SEC Player of the Year.
“The ups and downs come with it, but I’m just glad I made the decision to come to school instead of getting drafted out of high school,” India said. “I’ve made so many memories here. I won the first-ever national championship in Gator baseball program history. To be a part of that was awesome.”
India still has some time left at Florida, as the Gators next take on Auburn in the NCAA Super Regionals and look to repeat as national champions. After their run is over, the former Stallion will begin his professional career.
“The Reds are a great organization, they know how to win and they play the game the right way,” India said. “I’m excited to be a Red.”