In case you missed it in the run-up to the July 4 holiday, the Cincinnati Reds signed their 2018 first-round draft pick earlier this week.
Something Jonathan India said about his future position caught our attention.
“I played shortstop my whole life until Florida,” India said. “That’s just the way it worked out over there. I still feel I’m a shortstop, but I can play anywhere.”
That versatility is good because the Reds already have a pretty good-looking infield these days even without top prospect Nick Senzel having made it to The Show yet.
They’re less set at shortstop than third base or second base, though, so who will end up manning that spot played so capably for so many years by Davey Concepcion, Barry Larkin and most recently Zack Cozart?
Here are the candidates:
Starting with anyone else would be plain disrespectful.
The 24-year-old inherited the job after Cozart signed with the Angels in the offseason, and he has found himself at the plate after a rough start to the season.
However, he ranks 18th in Fangraphs defensive rating among shortstops in majors and is tied for the National League lead in errors at shortstop with nine.
Clearly there are worse options, but can the Reds find better, and is he already in their system?
The team’s top prospect got a look at shortstop in spring training but went to second base to start the season at Triple-A Louisville.
At the time, general manager Dick Williams said Senzel could be a good shortstop but an elite second baseman.
Senzel is out for the rest of this season with a finger injury, but his bat will get him into the lineup somewhere eventually.
The 19-year-old has been one of the Dayton Dragons’ best players this season, his first in Class A, but that is primarily because of what he has done with the bat.
Through 78 games, Downs hit .261 with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs to go with 22 steals.
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Splitting time between second base and shortstop, he’s put up far better numbers at the former. The Florida native has 11 errors in 29 games at short and just three in 47 games at second.
All 50 of his games in rookie ball last season were at shortstop, where he committed 18 errors.
A highly regarded prospect when he got a reported $5 million to sign with the Reds last year, Garcia has been Dayton’s primary shortstop this season and also committed his share of miscues (17 errors in 54 games at the position).
Things have not gone better at the plate, where he is hit .215 with one homer, 13 doubles and 27 RBIs in his first 73 games.
This might be a long shot, but someone has to do it, right?
He was an elite hitter at Florida, where he hit .350 with 21 homers this spring.
Like Downs and Garcia, India is in all likelihood at least two years away from the majors, but given the state of the farm system, he may find the position available by that time.
Your guess is as good as ours.
Peraza appears to be at least competent at the position, but someone could outperform him in the field, at the plate or both.
What the Reds ultimately decide to do with Scooter Gennett will also have a big impact.
Trading him would open up second base for Senzel next season, but signing a fan favorite who has been one of their best players to a long-term deal could still be an option.
Either of them could end up in the outfield, too.
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