3 Reds players to watch during the Cactus League opener vs. the Guardians

Cincinnati Reds shortstops Jose Barrero (2), Elly De La Cruz (44)
Cincinnati Reds shortstops Jose Barrero (2), Elly De La Cruz (44) / Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Reds player to watch during the Cactus League opener: Jose Barrero

Sadly, this may be Jose Barrero's first and last chance. Let's pause for a moment and think about everything that Barrero has gone through the past few seasons, shall we? During the pandemic-shortened season, in which everything was backwards and very little made sense, the Reds added Barrero to the roster despite never playing above A-Ball.

The rookie played in place of Freddy Galvis, that is until the Reds made a late-seasonssurge that thrust them into the playoff picture. After starting nearly every game through his first two weeks with the team, Barrero was then relegated to a bench player for the last week of the season and the Reds' postseason appearance.

In 2021, the Reds rightfully started Barrero at Double-A Chattanooga. After all, he'd never even seen a Double-A field until 2021. Barrero was dominant at both Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville and received a call-up to the bigs.

But once again, the Reds took a lukewarm approach to Barrero's time in the majors - moving him from shortstop to second base and then to the outfield. Barrero never received consistent reps in the field or at the plate and logged just 50 at-bats in 21 games.

Finally, last spring looked like Barrero's chance to prove himself in the big leagues. But offseason wrist surgery robbed him of competing for the starting shortstop job, and Barrero never looked comfortable at the plate last season. His time at Triple-A and the major leagues were disastrous with strikeout-rates approaching 40.0%.

So, Jose Barrero enters spring training this year with conundrum. Not only does he have to outplay Kevin Newman in order to be part of the Reds Opening Day roster, but he's also got to fend off top prospects Matt McLain and Elly De La Cruz. Barrero has a huge task in front of him this spring.