Reds: Kyle Farmer must continue to start at shortstop over Jose Barrero

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 14: Shortstop Kyle Farmer #17 of the Cincinnati Reds throws to first. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 14: Shortstop Kyle Farmer #17 of the Cincinnati Reds throws to first. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Jose Barrero was called up the big leagues yesterday following the unfortunate news that Jesse Winker was headed to the injured list. There is no doubt that Barrero is the future shortstop of the Cincinnati Reds, but this season, the position belongs to Kyle Farmer.

Strange as it may seem, the Reds chose to recall Barrero rather than Nick Senzel. Senzel was optioned to Triple-A Louisville on Sunday, and according to Bats’ manager Pat Kelly, via The Athletics’ C. Trent Rosecrans, Senzel still isn’t 100% healthy.

Senzel’s health is likely the biggest rationale as to why he was not recalled to the big league club, though Barrero’s production at Triple-A has been fantastic this season, and is a big reason why the 23-year-old was promoted to the 26-man roster yesterday.

Still, Barrero’s presence on the roster cannot affect the playing time of Farmer. The 30-year-old has proven himself to be a capable major league shortstop, and unless he’s getting a day off, the former Dodgers’ catching prospect should remain in the everyday lineup.

Reds’ Kyle Farmer must continue to start over top prospect Jose Barrero.

Kyle Farmer has established himself this season as a big league shortstop; quite a feat for a former catcher. Farmer had primarily played the role of utility infielder since arriving in Cincinnati back in 2019, but last year, showed flashes of potential at shortstop, and after Eugenio Suarez failed to make the transition back to his former position, Farmer took over the reigns for good.

None of this is to say that Jose Barrero is unworthy of playing shortstop in the major leagues. In fact, from a defensive standpoint, he’s been ready for a couple years. What’s unclear at this point in his career is whether or not Barrero can hit major league pitching.

After hitting just .194 last season in a brief appearance at the big league level, Barrero took the challenge to improve his hitting quit seriously over the winter and it haas paid huge dividends in 2021.

During his minor league stint at both Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville, Barrero has hit .303/.378/.532 with 19 doubles, 17 home runs, and 62 RBIs. The top infield prospect in the Cincinnati Reds’ farm system has also racked up 15 stolen bases in 80 minor league games this season.

But, as good as Jose Barrero has looked in the minor leagues this season, Kyle Farmer has looked even better in a big league uniform. The former Georgia Bulldog is one of the hottest hitters in the league over the second-half of the season.

Farmer, who recorded his 16th double of the season last night, is hitting .261/.321/.410 in 2021. Since the All-Star break, Farmer is tied for the major league lead in hits (40) with Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson. Farmer’s .956 OPS since the Midsummer Classic ranks 12th in league for player who’ve played at least 20 games in the second-half of the 2021 season.

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Kyle Farmer has been nursing an abdominal injury for quite some time now, so if David Bell wants to give his starting shortstop a day off here and there over the next couple weeks while Jose Barrero is on the roster, so be it. But, under no circumstances should Barrero supplant Farmer as the Cincinnati Reds’ everyday shortstop this season. As for next year, let’s wait and see.