Will playing in the Puerto Rican Winter League help solve Jose Barrero's woes?

Cincinnati Reds infielder Jose Barrero
Cincinnati Reds infielder Jose Barrero / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

Some fans throughout Reds Country have already given up on Jose Barrero. Once the Cincinnati Reds' top infield prospect, Barrero has fallen on hard times after showing little to no growth from 2021 to 2022.

Barrero struggled mightily in 2022, both in the minor leagues and in the big leagues as well. After being named the Reds Minor League Player of the Year in 2021, the shortstop looked like a shadow of himself last season.

Barrero was absent from this weekend's festivities at RedsFest, as the 24-year-old was preparing for his departure to Puerto Rico. Barrero will be playing in the Puerto Rican Winter League which consists of six teams with play concluding in early-January.

Will playing Puerto Rican Winter League help solve Jose Barrero's woes?

The Cincinnati Reds are hopeful that the extra reps in Puerto Rico will help Jose Barrero return to his 2021 form. Remember, Barrero hit .303/.380/.539 in 80 games split between Double-A and Triple-A during the minor league season that year.

But Barrero underwent surgery for a wrist injury this past spring before returning to Triple-A in 2022. Barrero never looked like the same prospect fans saw during the previous year. The infielder slashed just .209/.262/.377 in 55 games for the Louisville Bats last season.

After the Reds made the decision to trade Brandon Drury to the San Diego Padres and move Kyle Farmer to third base, Jose Barrero received a call-up to the big leagues, and for the first time in his career, was given an unobstructed opportunity to find success in the majors while playing shortstop.

Unfortunately, Barrero fell on his face. The free-swinging Cuban accumulate strikeouts about as often as Aaron Judge racked up home runs. Barrero finished the year with 76 punch outs in 165 at-bats and a ghastly .195 on-base percentage. Barrero made Aristides Aquino look like Babe Ruth.

With Farmer now in Minnesota, Barrero has a clear opportunity to seize control of the starting shortstop position in 2023. While the addition of Kevin Newman will give the Cincinnati Reds a backup option in the event that Barrero falters, you have to assume that the front office and coaching staff will give the 24-year-old every chance to win the job outright during spring training.

This could be Jose Barrero's last chance. While some fans can argue that the Reds' brass has mishandled Barrero's development, the truth of the matter is that he has a golden opportunity to turn things around. It begins with a trip to the Puerto Rican Winter League. Let's hope Barrero finds success.

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