CINCINNATI -- With his parents and sister by his side, Reds first-rounder Jonathan India stepped on to the field at Great American Ball Park for the first time Tuesday and took it all in. India hasn't made it to the Major Leagues yet, but the journey began that day with
CINCINNATI -- With his parents and sister by his side, Reds first-rounder Jonathan India stepped on to the field at Great American Ball Park for the first time Tuesday and took it all in. India hasn't made it to the Major Leagues yet, but the journey began that day with the signing of his contract with the Reds.
A third baseman from the University of Florida and the fifth overall selection in the 2018 MLB Draft, India signed for a $5.3 million bonus, slightly below the pick's slot value of $5,946,400. He spent the day in Cincinnati and took a physical before coming over to the ballpark.
"It's amazing. It's a dream come true of mine," India said. "It's the next step in my life, to have worked so hard for. It's taken a lot of sacrifices to get here. I'm so happy it finally came to this day. I'm ready to get going."
India, 21, will report to rookie-level Greeneville later this week to get his pro career started.
In 68 games this season at Florida, India batted .350/.497/.717 with 21 home runs and 52 RBIs. His signing was delayed as he played in the College World Series with the Gators. The signing deadline for 2018 Draft picks is 5 p.m. ET on Friday.
India felt playing at a high level in college should prepare him for the next step.
"I believe the SEC is the best conference in college," India said. "You see so many of the top Draft picks are SEC guys. The best pitchers, best hitters. Florida's a program where they instill hard work and a winning mentality."
It's not clear yet which infield position, or positions, India will play in the organization. He was a high school shortstop but switched to third base at Florida. The Reds currently have Eugenio Suarez as their third baseman, and he signed a seven-year, $66 million contract in March. The overall No. 2 pick from the 2016 Draft, Nick Senzel, was also picked as a third baseman but played mostly second base this season for Triple-A Louisville until a right index finger injury required season-ending surgery last week.
"I played against him my freshman year. He was a junior," India said of Senzel. "He did really well against us."
India certainly has a preference of where he belongs in the field.
"I still feel like I'm a shortstop," India said. "It's an athlete's position. I've played there my whole life."
Siani, Byrne ink deals
Also signed on Tuesday were two other 2018 Draft picks: outfielder Mike Siani (4th round) and pitcher Michael Byrne (14th).
Siani, who was selected out of William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia, received a signing bonus of $2 million -- well above the slot value of $512,800 for the 109th pick. A left-handed hitter, he batted .361 during his senior season and was named Pennsylvania's Gatorade Player of the Year. There was some negotiating leverage because he was committed to the University of Virginia and initially leaning towards playing college baseball.
"I wasn't sure at all," Siani said. "I was kind of letting the situation play out for itself. Fortunately, the Reds came up with the amount of money that was going to make it happen. Going to bed the first night, I didn't get picked. I was unsure about what was going to happen. I didn't want to assume anything. It all worked out for the best."
Siani joined India and Byrne in wearing Reds jerseys and walking around the ballpark.
"I'm excited. It's been kind of a long month of waiting around," said Siani, who will also report to Greeneville. "It's definitely pretty special to be able to walk out here and sign the contract and be part of this organization."
It was also a special day for Byrne, a college teammate of India's, as he was able to sign his pro contract with his fellow Gator.
"It's pretty cool, seeing Indy here," said Byrne, who received a $260,000 bonus. "He's a big reason I wanted to come here, too. He's talked to me. It's awesome he got drafted as high as he did. The year that he put on at Florida was pretty impressive."
Byrne, a starting pitcher for Florida, will initially be a reliever in the Reds organization and report to Class A-Advanced Daytona. He could be part of a rotation in the Minors in 2019.
"I want to start, take the ball every fifth day and have the ball in my hand," Byrne said. "I get nervous watching the game, so I'd rather be pitching out there."
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.