One good year can do wonders to a player's draft stock.
Jonathan India experienced that first-hand in 2018 and reaped the benefits on Monday.
The Cincinnati Reds selected India with the fifth overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. He became the 20th first-round pick in UF baseball history, 10th since 1998 and fifth over the last four years. He is the Gators' fourth top-10 overall pick in program history, joining Mike Zunino (No. 3, 2012), A.J. Puk (No. 6, 2015) and Matt LaPorta (No. 7, 2007). His draft slot is estimated at just under $6 million.
India, a Coral Springs native, had two decent years to open up his collegiate career before finding his stride as a junior. Heading into Monday's Gainesville Regional final, India paces the Gators with a .366 batting average, a .733 slugging mark (fourth-best in Florida history), 18 home runs and 49 walks. His 45 RBI are third on the team.
"He was the breakout player in college baseball's best conference (the SEC) this year," MLB.com's Jim Callis wrote of India in his instant analysis. "He's got close to solid tools across the board, starting with the ability to hit, growing power and a fine approach at the plate. His defensive versatility intrigues me, and I wonder if the Reds might try him in the middle infield. They already have Eugenio Suarez at third, which is also the natural position of Nick Senzel, the second overall pick in 2016 and their No. 1 prospect. Senzel is also seeing time at second this year.
He became just the third UF player to earn SEC Player of the Year accolades as a result, joining a short list of UF players that includes Zunino and LaPorta to earn the honor.
At one point in the middle of the season, India rattled off a 24-game hit streak during which he posted a .513 batting average with eight home runs and 21 RBI. The Gators went 20-4 in that span.
“The power is the biggest surprise, as India always seemed like he had good feel to hit and a sound approach,” ESPN’s Keith Law wrote in his scouting report of India. “This output against great competition has launched him into the top 10.”
And that doesn’t even take into account his prowess as a defender. A natural shortstop, India played the majority of his Florida career at third base and has been a rock at the hot corner.
It seemed like only a matter of time before India had sustained success. The 2018 season became that year.
And now, he is just Florida’s fourth position player since the turn of the century to be drafted in the first round, joining catcher Richie Martin (No. 20 in 2015), Zunino (No. 3 overall in 2012) and LaPorta (No. 7 in 2007).