Jose Barrero's improvements present a good problem for the Reds

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Jose Barrero (2) throws a ball.
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Jose Barrero (2) throws a ball. / The Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY

Since Reds spring training began back in mid-February, there's been so much focus on the young nucleus of talent that one player seems to have been lost in the shuffle.

Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, and definitely Christian Encarnacion-Strand have made some noise this spring, and fans of the Cincinnati Reds are certainly curious to see if both Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo make strides during their second year in the big leagues.

But Jose Barrero has quietly put together a very nice spring thus far. The young shortstop went 2-for-3 in Monday night's exhibition game against the Colorado Rockies with a single and a triple. But what will the Reds do if Barrero's success carries over to the regular season?

Reds SS Jose Barrero has made improvements this spring.

What will the Cincinnati Reds do? General manager Nick Krall might start doing backflips if Jose Barrero actually plays up to the lofty expectations that were heaped onto his shoulders a couple years ago.

Barrero, much like Elly De La Cruz and Matt McLain, was booked as the Reds next great shortstop. After Davey Concepcion and Barry Larkin held down the position for nearly four decades, Cincinnati has been searching for a successor that can actually take the reins of one of the most demanding positions in the game.

Barrero sure looked the part after putting up terrific numbers in the minor leagues during the 2021 season. But the young infielder floundered after being promoted to the majors in August of that year. Barrero's struggles in 2022 at both Triple-A and in the big leagues put a damper on any and all expectations that Reds Country had for the 24-year-old heading into the upcoming season.

But Jose Barrero has worked closely with new hitting coach Joel McKeithan and his new approach at the dish is paying dividends. Barrero has hit .333/.375/.533 this spring, but has struck out five times in 15 at-bats (33.3-percent strikeout-rate).

Barrero is in a heated competition with veteran shortstop Kevin Newman this spring. Newman is a fine defender, but his light hitting this spring (.594 OPS) will likely slot him into a utility role.

So many fans of the Cincinnati Reds are anxious to see how this competition plays out, especially with so many young shortstops in the team's farm system. This is a good problem to have.

Having four major league-ready shortstops gives the team plenty of depth in the event of injury and also allows Cincinnati to trade from a position of strength in order to bolster one of the weaker spots on the roster. Perhaps the Reds are eyeing a position change as well for one of their young infielders.

Next. Ranking every prospect's chances to make the Reds roster. dark