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PITTSBURGH –– Even though Jose Barrero has already started for the Cincinnati Reds during the stretch run of the 2020 season and the 2021 season, he’ll still qualify as a rookie in 2022.
Last season, Barrero had the opportunity to be the Reds starting shortstop in September. This season, he made more starts in center field than at shortstop as the Reds made a run at a playoff berth.
He still has only 109 MLB at-bats entering Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. While he has a .193 career batting average and a .480 career OPS, he’s younger than any other player on the Reds roster at 23-years-old.
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Even though he has struggled at the plate early in his career, Barrero’s goals for the 2022 season haven’t changed. The Reds top position player prospect wants to follow in Jonathan India’s footsteps and win next year’s Rookie of the Year award.
“It’s always a goal to be on the Opening Day roster and help them out as much as possible in any way that I can,” Barrero said via interpreter Jorge Merlos. “For me it’s working hard to get back here, and I look forward to accomplishing more goals along the way.”
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Cincinnati Reds center fielder Jose Barrero (38) hits a single in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
When India had as many MLB at-bats as Barrero has now, India’s batting average was near its lowest point of the season. When India had 109 at-bats, he was hitting .222. That week, India briefly lost his starting spot, but he responded over the next four months with one of the best rookie seasons in baseball.
Barrero had the best Minor League season of his career in 2021. After making a mechanical adjustment to hit for more power, Barrero hit .306 with a .986 OPS in Triple-A this year. The Reds promoted him to MLB to provide depth over the last six weeks of the season, and he found playing time in center field as Reds outfielders continued to land on the injured list.
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“It’s just good to see him play and get at-bats,” Reds manager David Bell said. “We’ve seen him enough at short, our organization has seen him a ton at short. At this level, we’ve seen him at short. We know what to expect. I don’t have any doubts he can be an everyday shortstop, from what I’m seeing he probably could be an everyday center fielder. So, he’s in a great position.”
Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India (6) and Cincinnati Reds shortstop Jose Barrero (38) high five at the conclusion of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Reds won, 14-5.
Barrero had never played center field before this season, but he immediately impressed the coaching staff with his athleticism and his instincts. Barrero said that his father was a center fielder in Cuba, and he felt like he was representing his father by playing the outfield this season.
But Barrero has been called the Reds shortstop of the future, and he said he made even bigger strides defensively at shortstop in the Minor Leagues this year.
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“I’m still going to continue working at shortstop,” Barrero said. “That’s my position, that’s where I want to play. But of course I’m still going to practice in the outfield as much as I can.”
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Jose Barrero (38) stops a ground ball to make a double play in the seventh inning of the MLB National League game between the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, at Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati.
Since Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer isn’t expected to play the rest of this season due to a minor injury, Barrero should make the last two starts of the Reds season at shortstop.
In 2021, Farmer was one of the Reds most productive shortstops over the last 15 seasons. In addition to a defensive ability that his teammates have called Gold Glove worthy, Farmer posted the fifth-highest OPS of any Reds shortstop since 2004.
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If Farmer remains the Reds starting shortstop in 2022, then Barrero showed this season that he would be able to start in center field. With Barrero’s progress this year, he continued to add to his reputation as a potential shortstop of the future.
“He’s an everyday player,” Bell said. “He continues to make adjustments offensively. When it happens, I believe it’s going to happen quick. It’s going to come fast at this level. Then, we won’t be looking back.”