No. 4 prospect Barrero back up with Reds

August 17th, 2021

CINCINNATI -- When shortstop was in the big leagues last season, even the Reds knew he wasn’t ready for it yet. Barrero went from Class A Advanced Daytona to the big leagues when the 2020 Minor League schedule was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization knew then that Barrero had an exceptional glove, but it could only hope his bat would catch up quickly. It didn’t, as Barrero batted .194 with 26 strikeouts in 67 at-bats over 24 games. This time, it’s different.

“Everything that I’ve learned from last year, that’s going to help me into this second time I’m with the club. I will take everything I had from last year and use it for this year,” Barrero said on Monday via translator Jorge Merlos.

Barrero, 23, was recalled from Triple-A Louisville when outfielder went on the 10-day injured list with an intercostal strain. Ranked the No. 4 prospect in the organization by MLB Pipeline, Barrero got the needed seasoning when he opened 2021 with Double-A Chattanooga and later moved up to Louisville. In 80 games combined, he batted .303/.378/.532 with 17 home runs and 62 RBIs. Eleven of Barrero's homers came while with Louisville.

It’s unlikely that Barrero will become the regular shortstop right now, and he was not in Monday’s starting lineup, though he entered in the seventh inning of the Reds' 14-5 win over the Cubs as a pinch-hitter and went 0-for-1 with a walk and a run scored. He stayed in the game at short, too. Cincinnati has been thrilled with the production and defense from Kyle Farmer this season, though, and the club doesn't plan on reducing his playing time. However, Farmer has been playing with a sports hernia, and getting days off on occasion will be beneficial.

Barrero has gotten time at third base and second base in the Minors, and he could be used in different spots.

“The way I see it is No. 1, this team has played well and the players on this team have played well to be in the position we’re in,” Reds manager David Bell said. “No one has looked to disrupt anything. We’re always looking to get better and have the best team on the field. The fact that Jose can play third base and second base is going to help the situation.

"We’re day to day, and I’m not going to look too far ahead. It’ll happen where he plays some short, plays some second, plays some third. He’s going to come off the bench. We’ve had four bench players for a long time. The guys that aren’t starting the game, they factor in big to almost all of our games.”

Barrero went by Jose Garcia last season, but he changed his last name in May to honor his mother, Tonia Barrero, after she died in Cuba from COVID-19-related symptoms.

When Barrero arrived at Great American Ball Park during batting practice, he received a warm welcome and hugs from teammates -- including Joey Votto. He credited Votto, Eugenio Suárez and Mike Moustakas with helping him in the past.

“Mentally has to be the biggest thing that I’ve changed in the past year,” Barrero said. “Really, it’s just the fact that I’ve worked with Votto and Suárez and Moose, that I’ve been able to take all of the things they told me. Just playing with them is going to help me in playing this year.”

Senzel remains at Triple-A
Because of the injury to Winker, the Reds could have called up center fielder Nick Senzel one day after he was optioned to Louisville following his activation from the 60-day IL. Although Senzel is deemed recovered from left knee surgery, there was a feeling that he still needs to regain more of his skills on the field.

“At this point, my interpretation is he just needs more time from a baseball standpoint to come back and hit the ground running here at the Major League level,” Bell said. “That’s how I understand it. We’re happy with our team and want to make sure when he gets back here -- and he’s going to get back here -- that he’s fully ready to go from a baseball standpoint.”

Senzel batted .286 (10-for-35) in 10 games during his rehab assignment with Louisville.

What happens in left field?
Winker had an MRI on Monday that showed no serious injury, but he felt pain on Sunday when he was removed midway through the Reds' 7-4 win in Philadelphia. While Winker is out, Tyler Naquin, Aristides Aquino and Shogo Akiyama will rotate between the left field and center field spots.

“Just going to continue to make it work by the day. A lot will depend on who we’re facing, who the opposing starter is,” Bell said. “They’re all playing well right now, Naquin, Shogo, Aquino has done a nice job. All three of those guys are in a position where they can help us. You never want to lose Jesse -- very, very hopeful he’ll be back in 10 days. Until then, we’re in a good situation playing the guys we’re playing.”

If the Reds find themselves short an outfielder later in games, Tyler Stephenson, Farmer and Moustakas could be options in left field. Stephenson has been taking fly balls, just in case.