The Pittsburgh Pirates, at long last, recalled one of their top prospects back to the big leagues. Oneil Cruz returned to the Buccos' lineup on Monday. The Cincinnati Reds should follow their example and recall Jose Barrero.
It's time. Yes, I'm fully aware that Barrero is hitting just .216 in 25 games at Triple-A Louisville. But I don't care. In his last five games, Barrero is 6-for-23 (.261) with two home runs. It's time for the Reds to recall Barrero and play him every day at shortstop.
I know this is a controversial take and an overwhelming majority of Reds fans will immediately come to the defense of Kyle Farmer. I like Farmer. This is not about Farmer being bad and Barrero being better. Frankly, we don't know what Barrero is, and that's the whole point.
The Reds need to recall Jose Barrero and play him every day at SS.
Kyle Farmer is who he is. He's a gritty, tough ballplayer who's easy to root for. Farmer is similar in makeup to past fan-favorites like Scooter Gennett and Ryan Freel. The dude plays hard, has a likable personality, and get's the most out of his God-given abilities.
Farmer bailed the Reds out last season after the disaster that was Eugenio Suárez at shortstop. After Mike Moustakas went down with an injury, Geno returned to third base and Farmer stepped up and became Cincinnati's everyday shortstop. I applaud him for that. But it's time to see is Jose Barrero has what it takes to be a major league shortstop.
Barrero has done everything the Reds have asked of him. After getting a cup of coffee in the big leagues during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Reds sent Barrero to Double-A to begin last season. After dismantling the competition (.300/.367/.481) at that level, Barrero was sent to Triple-A.
At the highest minor-league level, Jose Barrero continued to punish opposing pitchers. Barrero slashed .306/.392/.594 with 13 home runs and 38 RBIs. Barrero earned a call-up last August, and as a part-time player hit just .200/.286/.320.
The Reds have not given Jose Barrero a chance to prove himself.
There's a contingent of Reds Country who will continually tell you that Jose Barrero cannot hit major league pitching. That narrative is tired and flat-out wrong. Yes, Barrero has just a .197 career batting average in the major leagues. But that's in only 45 games with 124 plate appearances. Of those 124 plate appearances, 68 came before he'd even played above A-Ball.
The idea that Barrero cannot hit major league pitching is incorrect. Now, I'll also say that the idea that he can is also incorrect. We don't know yet, and that's the whole point. If Barrero is as talented as we're led to believe, then the Cincinnati Reds need to promote him to the big leagues and give the infielder a legitimate chance to prove himself.
I'm not talking about platooning Jose Barrero with Kyle Farmer at shortstop. This is a lost season. The Reds are 21 games under-.500 and are going nowhere fast. It's time to see if Barrero has the chops to play at the highest level.
Kyle Farmer is a versatile defender and rakes when facing left-handed pitchers. If David Bell wants to have Farmer in the lineup at either second or third base or as the designated hitter versus left-handers, I'm perfectly fine with that. But Barrero needs an opportunity to face major league pitching on a regular basis.
Don't forget about Reds SS prospect Matt McLain.
There's one more area of this discussion that oftentimes gets overlooked and that's infield prospect Matt McLain. The Cincinnati Reds first-round draft pick from last year is currently at Double-A Chattanooga and he's playing very well. McLain is hitting .234/.355/.464 with 11 home runs and 34 RBIs.
If Barrero is not the shortstop of the future, McLain might well be. So before the Cincinnati Reds have a bottleneck of shortstop prospects (Barrero, McLain, Elly De La Cruz, and Jose Torres) near the upper echelon of their minor league system, they need to thin the ranks.
It took the Pittsburgh Pirates much too long to finally hand the reigns over to Oneil Cruz after inexcusably allowing Cole Tucker and Diego Castillo to play at shortstop. The Cincinnati Reds cannot afford to make the same mistake. Jose Barrero missed spring training due to an injury, but after 25 games at Triple-A, it's time to recall the team's top infield prospect.