The Cincinnati Reds announced this afternoon that they have called up shortstop Jose Barrero from Triple-A Louisville. He’s coming up because the team had to place outfielder Jesse Winker on the 10-day injured list after he injured his intercostal muscle in Sunday’s game against the Phillies.

The big question of what to expect from Jose Barrero centers around playing time. For that question I simply do not have an answer. David Bell, and likely Nick Krall, are going to have something to say about that and I’m not either of them and have not seen any statements from them on how much playing time will go to Barrero. What I will do is quote myself from what I wrote at Redleg Nation earlier today when the new first broke:

Jose Barrero is the future shortstop of the Cincinnati Reds. He’s absolutely been killing the ball in the minor leagues this season. He’s the best defender at the shortstop position in the organization. No sanely run organization would, or should default to a 31-year-old who has had one good month at the plate in his entire career over a stud top rated 23-year-old prospect who has killed the ball in Triple-A – which we wrote about just a few days ago. This is where you hand the keys to Barrero and let him show you that he’s not the answer before you take them back from him.

What we can do, though, is look at what Jose Barrero has done in the minor leagues this season and try to project forward what he can be expected to do if he’s given playing time.

In the field I don’t think there’s going to be much of a difference from the minors to the Major Leagues. Defense translates in ways that offense doesn’t. He’s going to be an above-average defender who has both range and a laser-rocket arm.

It’s at the plate where there are likely some questions from some, mostly because of what they saw in 2020 from Jose Barrero – then Jose Garcia – at the plate. Barrero didn’t have a single extra-base hit and he had just one walk in his five weeks with the Reds last season. To say it was a struggle would be an understatement. But there was a lot being asked of Barrero, too. He had never played in a game above Advanced-A in the minor leagues when he was brought up to play last season. While he did get at-bats at the alternate site, that’s not quite the same thing. You constantly see the same pitchers and those pitchers can’t attack you the same way as they would if you weren’t their teammate. They are going to be more careful on the inside because they don’t want to hit you.

This season we saw Jose Barrero begin the year in Double-A. He was only there for 40 games because he hit .300/.367/.481 with 9 doubles, a triple, and 6 home runs. That was enough for the organization to move him up to Triple-A. Funny enough, he’s also now played in 40 games with Louisville and his offensive output has been even better. The 23-year-old has hit .305/.389/.584 with 10 doubles, a triple, and 11 home runs for the Bats. Louisville also happens to be one of the more pitcher friendly ballparks in all of Triple-A.

Before taking a deeper dive into things let’s talk about the overall expectations. It’s not likely that Jose Barrero is a .300 hitter right now. His BABIP in the minors this season is .355, and while a very small number of players can routinely carry a BABIP that high, expecting someone to do so is unwise until they’ve proven that they are the exception to that rule in the big leagues. But he’s the kind of hitter who should be able to hit at least .250 out of the gate, if not a little bit better. He’s also stolen 15 bases this season in 80 games. Billy Hamilton he isn’t, but he’s an above-average runner who should provide some value on the bases.

There are going to be some strikeouts – he’s struck out 23% of the time this year in Triple-A (23% is also the MLB average rate of strikeouts in 2021). But there’s also a chance he’s going to have some walks, too. His walk rate went up when he arrived in Triple-A, and even in Double-A it was up quite a bit from where he had been at previously in his career. With Louisville he was walking 10% of the time he came to the plate.

It’s the power, though, that has been the biggest breakthrough in 2021 for Jose Barrero. He hit eight home runs in 104 games for then Advanced-A Daytona. This season he’s clobbered 17 home runs in just 80 games. He’s gotten bigger and stronger – even since you last saw him in the big leagues about a year ago.

If we’re going to try to compare him to the guy in the big leagues last season, it’s pretty simple: He’s gotten much better at judging the strikezone, he’s walking more, striking out less, and he’s hitting for power like he’s never done so before.

If we want to dive into the details a little bit more and get refined, we can (and should) do that. Despite being a right-handed hitter, Jose Barrero has hit right-handed pitching significantly better this season than left-handed pitching. Against righties he’s hit .316/.391/.581 with 23 walks and 51 strikeouts in 249 plate appearances. Against lefties he’s hit just .273/.348/.424 with 11 walks and 31 strikeouts in 112 plate appearances.

Those splits are a little bit deceiving, though. Since joining Louisville he’s hit both lefties and righties well. In 57 plate appearances at the Triple-A level against lefties he is hitting .306/.404/.531 with seven walks and 15 strikeouts. Against righties he’s hitting .305/.382/.610 with 11 walks and 27 strikeouts in 123 plate appearances.

There has been another interesting change from Jose Barrero since he arrived in Triple-A: His ground ball rate has gone done in a big way. While at Double-A Chattanooga he had a ground ball rate of 41%. That’s roughly an average ground ball rate. But since he’s been in Louisville that rate has dropped to 30%. He is putting the ball in the air a lot more often, and as a result he’s been hitting for a lot more power.

There’s a lot going on in the stats for Jose Barrero. And almost all of it suggests that what we’ve seen is a very talented baseball player who simply wasn’t ready for the big leagues last year head to the minor leagues in 2021 and make big time improvements within his game. As Triple-A Louisville manager Pat Kelly told C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic over the weekend, “I see a star in the making.”

Same, Pat Kelly. Same.

22 Responses

  1. MK

    Males Smith was traded or sold to Blue Jays in a Minor League deal.

  2. Jefferson Green

    I now wonder if this promotion was Senzel’s if he had shown up in Louisville yesterday.

    • RedsKoolAidDrinker

      Senzel failed to show up? I was wondering why it wasn’t Senzel who was taking Winker’s spot since he’s an outfielder

  3. Tony

    Apart from physical maturity, the biggest change I’ve seen from Barrero this year is his ability to keep his weight back and drive off speed pitches. I’ve seen highlights of most of his hrs this year and If my memory serves me correctly a good % of these were off speed stuff. This is a huge step for a young hitter to take in the big leagues because veteran pitchers tend to throw a lot of off speed stuff out of the zone to young hitters, especially in run producing situations. We shall see if it carries over.

    • MK

      Because he is better than Senzel. Senzel is a injury prone underachiever and Barrera is a rising star.

  4. Mark

    Welcome to Cincinnati Jose Barrero. The Reds everyday SS for the next 6 years. Little statistical comparison of the so called #1 prospect in baseball Tampa Bay SS Wander Franco and Jose Barrero’s Triple -A East minor league stats this season. Barrero had 8 less AB’s , played 1 more game than Wander Franco (39).

    Barrero’s key stats/ OPS 973/ SLG 584/ OBP 389/ AVG 305/ HR 11/ SB 7
    Franco’s key stats/ OPS 954/ SLG 586/ OBP 367/ AVG 315/ HR 7/ SB 3

    Wander Franco has been Baseball America’s top prospect for at least 2 years. Jose Barrero just starting to get the recognition he deserves. Good luck to Jose.

    Same can be said for Jonathan India being underated in his minor league time with the Reds but look at him now impacting the ML. Vladimir Gutierrez underated in the Reds minor leagues but look at him now. Greene is coming up the pipeline soon and extremly under rated in 2020!. You know when these guys were not under rated? They were not under rated when the Reds Scouting department gave all of them MULTI MILLION dollar contracts to sign with the REDS.

  5. LDS

    I see Sheldon just posted that Barrero isn’t expected to be the everyday SS just there to give Farmer an occasional break. Hope he’s wrong.

    • LDS

      And Bell comments that Barrero will be playing SS, 3B, and 2B. So the best SS candidate is going to be a utility guy while the utility guy is going to be the starting SS. And you guys wonder why I’m skeptical of Bell’s abilities.

  6. tim kauble

    this does not make any sense. They replace an outfielder with a shortstop and probably alienate one of our best outfielders. I don’t get it.

  7. Matt McWax

    Senzel needs some more time to get back his timing and strength. When he starts stringing together multi-hit games and dominating AAA, he’ll be brought up. Still too early to throw him under the bus, but leaving him in AAA until he hits like he did there in 2018 (roughly like Barrero this year) isn’t throwing him under the bus. Now if he struggles and pouts, then we might start to worry.

  8. RedsGettingBetter

    “….The big question of what to expect from Jose Barrero centers around playing time. For that question I simply do not have an answer…”
    Well , I think the answer to this question has been made by Bell when he showed the line-up for tonight and put the name of Kyle Farmer playing SS and batting in the FOURTH spot…
    By the way, the line-up does seem a little weird related to the batting order overall… Hopefully they can bring a lot of runs to the plate…

  9. Amdg

    Sadly, Barrero could hit 0.400 and would still get less AB’s than Farmer and Suarez, going forward.

    He may be the best offensive and defensive SS in the organization, but it takes more than on field production to get playing time for the Reds ?

  10. SteveO

    Doug, do you think Senzel is now going to play SS mainly in Louisville?

    • Redsvol

      SteveO – lets just hope he plays 5-6 games a week and begins the dominate lessor competition. Because if he doesn’t than he isn’t better than what is already on the major league roster.

  11. kevinz

    Expect him to flash to much.
    Then get more playing time.
    Energy Votto Nick get from Youth.
    Could be wrong.
    More what I think will happen.

  12. RedBB

    And yet Farmer starts again tonight…Krall and Bell have shown their hand.

    • Doug Gray

      Not just that….. Barrero was apparently working in center field in pre-game workouts with the outfield coach.

      Because that is definitely the better idea instead of just letting him start over Kyle Farmer and his 85 OPS+.

    • kevinz

      Yup Should have said
      More what I want to Happen.
      Bell did say hr would come off the Bench.
      why hope flashes to much, to keep him on the Bench.