Last week we learned that Cincinnati Reds prospect Jose Barrero would play in the Dominican Winter League this offseason. He had been working with hitting coach Alan Zinter and new assistant hitting coach Joel McKeithan right before the owners locked the players out, eliminating any further opportunity for the three of them to work together until the lockout ended. Barrero will join Escogido starting on Tuesday.

When he joins the team Barrero will be teaming up with another Reds prospect, Francisco Urbaez. The recently turned 24-year-old Urbaez has been a staple in the Lions lineup, playing in 28 games and hitting .290/.398/.300 with 16 walks and 13 strikeouts as he finishes up his first professional season after being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2020 out of Florida Atlantic.

What position Jose Barrero will play with Escogido wasn’t disclosed. While he played exclusively shortstop in the minor leagues last season with both Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville, he actually played more in center while with Cincinnati than he did shortstop.

It’s not just the position that could be a question for now, though. How long he will play is unknown, too. The Dominican Winter League regular season ends this week. The top four teams advance, while the bottom two teams are eliminated. However, the four remaining teams get to draft players from the two eliminated teams for the next round of the playoffs. Escogido is currently still playing to make it to the next round. If they don’t, Barrero could be drafted and join one of the teams that does advance. Barrero, as a non-Dominican born player will be available for only three rounds of the draft if Escogido doesn’t advance.

Brandon Finnegan signs with the White Sox

The Cincinnati Reds released Brandon Finnegan in late November, ending his 7-season run in the Cincinnati organization. The left-handed pitcher was the last remaining player from the Johnny Cueto trade still around. He is now with the Chicago White Sox after signing a minor league deal with them on Friday.

53 Responses

  1. tim

    off topic, but should the reds sign one of either tommy pham or andrew mccutcheon to platoon in right with naquin? give mccutcheon a two year contract, so he he can get his 300th home run and 1000th rbi in cincinnati? i think the fans would love him (as much we we used to hate him when he killed us as a pirate.) either of these moves would mean giving up on aquino, of course.

    • VegasRed

      I like the potential for Soler better than McCutcheon. Younger and coming off a great playoff experience. He’s the RH batter the reds need and not that expensive for a couple years. Reds need at least one experienced Rh batter given their vulnerability to LH pitching.

    • MuddyCleats

      Who’s playing CF in your Lineup ? I am not gifting Senzel any spot. He hasn’t proved he can stay healthy and hasn’t performed above avg when he is in the lineup. He’s the perfect super sub IMO unless he can win a spot in ST that is? Barrereo needs to b at SS along w/ Farmer. Farmer is another super sub who can b helpful at a number of positions once Barrero shows he can handle SS on a daily basis. Like the Pham and Soler suggestions, but don’t see Reds willing to spend for either…?

      • LDS

        Barrero should be at SS period. Bench Farmer. Senzel & Naquin, not expecting much from them. Neither have managed to play a full season. Throw in Suarez & Moustakas? Winker can’t hit lefties. Vottol is 38 and isn’t likely to repeat this year’s performance, especially with the baseball revelations. Really big holes in the Reds lineup.

      • burtgummer01

        Yeah ok bench a guy who’s shown he can hit and play defense for a guy who’s shown nothing.Yeah that makes sense. smh

      • LDS

        Farmer’s stats say he was below league average. Barerro is supposed to be the future. If they doubt that , go sign Story. Otherwise start being serious about winning. And either we folks here accept what the “analytics” say, e.g. Farmer, or we admit we all have preferences and stars? Forget them , play “my guy”

      • BK

        Farmer produced 1.2 bWAR in what was a career year for him with much of his offensive value coming in the month of July. Defensively he was excellent. I think there’s some legitimate concern about how much to expect from him moving forward. Marcels projects an OPS of .710 for 2022. That would equate to roughly and OPS+ of 80, or 20% below average. Farmer played hurt for most of the second half of the season and this was really his first consistent playing time. So I believe he’ll best the Marcels projection, but I’m not sure it will be enough to warrant having start everyday. I see his ceiling as solid defense with a bat that fits best at the bottom third of a good lineup.

        Alternatively, Barrero has the potential to bring better defense and a better bat. Farmer had an OPS of .742 and .800 at AA and AAA respectively. Barrero had an OPS of .848 and .986 at AA and AAA respectively. To me, his ceiling is a good bit higher than Farmer. At the big league level, the Reds played him so sporadically it’s really hard to evaluate his performance. Barrero has the upside of terrific defense at SS and a bat that plays most anywhere in the lineup. I don’t know how we find out what he can do without playing him everyday.

        It’s still a bit early to really know what our outfield options will be. SS wasn’t really a position of strength last year, but Farmer kept it from being catastrophic. Ideally, we have good options in the outfield and we can afford to give Barrero an extended look at SS. Farmer will still be needed when we face LHP as our LH hitters nearly all struggle against LHP.

      • LDS

        On that we’ll agree. The LH hitting should have embarrassed them. But I think the organization itself is beyond embarrassment. Just keep the cash flowing in

      • greenmtred

        Excellent summation, BK. And, LDS, I’m curious as to why you feel Barrero shouldn’t be considered for positions other than SS? I know that, in his short career, that’s where he’s played, and I know that he is considered an excellent defender at the position. But who’s to say that he wouldn’t be a better centerfielder? Billy Hamilton started as a shortstop and became an all-world defender in center. Brandon Phillips started at short, and became a great defender at 2nd. I’m fine with Barrero at short (assuming that he can outhit Farmer), but neither position is organizationally one of strength for the Reds, and lots of players switch positions, so why not be flexible?

      • LDS

        Simple. If Barerro at SS is what he’s been touted as for the last couple of years then he should be playing SS. The “flexibility” argument so popular here and other places in baseball is a formula for institutionalizing mediocrity. Players/positions are not fungible. Bell has successfully demonstrated that in his 3 years at the helm, e.g., Moustakas at 2nd, Senzel in CF, Suarez at SS, etc. None have been successful. Can top tier athletes play different positions? Sure. Is that optimal for the player or the team? Rarely. Personalize it. Do you believe anyone else in your company can step in and perform your job as well or better than you? I would argue that generally if you believe that you’re either underperforming or selling yourself short.

      • BK

        Moustakas or Senzel didn’t fall short due to position changes, but rather injury. Defensively, they were about league average at the various positions they’ve played. A good argument could be made that injury thwarted Suarez work at SS, too. I don’t think any of us felt he would be more than serviceable defensively, but it was really his bat that doomed him in 2021.

        I don’t mind moving players around defensively provided the new position is within their skillset. Moustakas had played 2B for the Brewers–the Reds knew what they were getting. Senzel looked quite promising in CF as did Barrero for that matter.

        I would add the timing of the change is another factor. Making position change at the major league level while trying to establish yourself as a legit Major Leaguer is a lot to ask. Institutionally, MLB really favors vets and expects the rookies to find a way to fit into their big league team. If your strategy depends heavily on turning prospects into productive Major League players, perhaps the focus should be on making that transition as comfortable as possible.

      • AMDG

        Somebody said, “bench a guy who’s shown he can hit and play defense”.

        I’m confused, because for a second, I though we were talking about benching Farmer?

      • greenmtred

        Among other points, Suarez was originally a shortstop himself. I’m not personally suggesting that Barrero should play both short and center, I’m positing the thought that, perhaps, he would prove more valuable as a centrerfielder. But the simple assertion that asking positional flexibility from some players is a guarantee of mediocrity is not the same as proof. I would guess that the effect of playing different positions would vary, player to player, with more athletic players generally having little trouble with it. But that is, of course, just a guess, an unsupported assertion.

      • greenmtred

        Now we know that AMDG is not a Farmer fan. I watched him play defense and get a number of key hits this past season. This is not to say that he would, in the best of all possible worlds, be the starting shortstop, but the Reds were clearly much better off in 2021 than they would have been otherwise because he filled in ably and played hard and well through injury. I would assume that Barrero–or anyone else–should have to take the position away from him.

      • 2020ball

        “Can top tier athletes play different positions? Sure. Is that optimal for the player or the team? Rarely. ”

        Do not agree. Super easy to say, sure, and not the norm, but the Dodgers have deployed multiple guys at multiple positions and seen plenty of success. Bell is not at fault for the FO not giving him a SS, 2B, CF etc. Also not a coincidence those are some of the hardest positions to fill defensively.

      • 2020ball

        @green Yup, I agree. Someone needs to step up and show they’re ready to take the position from Farmer, same as India took it from Moose. Neither are a huge hurdle.

    • burtgummer01

      It would be different if Barrero had shown anything in the majors,he hasn’t.I wouldn’t want a hole at ss and cf.Put him in center get him some ab’s and see if he can learn how to hit major league pitching,he hasn’t yet

      • CI3J

        Barrero is a better defensive SS than Farmer. Farmer is a below average hitter. All Barrero needs to do is be average, and he’s an improvement on Farmer. His defensive range alone is probably enough reason to let him play over Farmer.

        What exactly is the point of continuing to play Farmer, really? How are you going to find out what Barrero can do if you never give him a chance? Stick him at SS every day until the All Star Break, then re-evaluate. What’s the worst that can happen?

      • 2020ball

        Since I’d prefer Barrero’s future is at SS, I’d prefer he play there. But I have no issue with defensive versatility, so him in CF wont get me to pull my hair out as long as he’s also playing SS in addition. Asking for a lot with that though given our questionable depth in CF.

  2. MBS

    Should Barrero be a SS or a CF comes down to 2/3 questions for me.

    1) is Farmer starting everyday better than Senzel starting everyday? Keeping in mind the fragility of Senzel, and how it’s difficult to plan on him as an everyday player all season long.

    A) Farmer over Senzel

    2) Are there equivalent or better SS prospects 1 year away, vs equivalent or better CF prospects 1 year away. McLain, Torres vs Siani.

    A) McLain

    (#2’s answer adds a question #3)

    3) Would Barrero transitioning to CF be easier at the MLB level than McLain or De La Cruze transitioning in the minors? I didn’t include De La Cruz on # 2 because I think he’s likely 2 or 3 years from being in the majors.

    A) Transitioning in the minors is easier

    So at the end of the day I’m still split on it because it’s too difficult to say for sure what’s the best way to go. If we assume my answers to #1 and #2 are correct, #3 slaps that plan in the face. I’m still going to go Barrero in CF, because we have 3 legitimate options in the minors to become our next SS. If Torres continues to show the ability to hit throughout the minors, then we’re really in a great place.

    Possible 24 / 25 lineup
    LF McLain, CF Barrero, RF De La Cruz, SS Torres, 2B India, C Stephenson, 3B Hinds, and 1B Confidan

    That is a much faster, and much better defensive team than we’ve had here in a long time. I’m excited to see if these prospects can become legit starters.

    • MuddyCleats

      Interesting comments, but when’s the last time Reds developed 3 quality ML players at any position let alone at SS ? It hasn’t exactly been a sure thing for a number of years now. IDK, but IMHO, Barrero is the type of player I’d like to play at his natural position which has been SS his entire minor league career. Personally, I don’t think he’s ready yet; he hasn’t had many ABs in AAA or in ML or produced much when he has. If Reds want to consider him for CF, I’d suggest playing him there some in AAA? No sense rushing him IMO. India is young, Stephenson is still developing as R many of the Reds young SPs. At some pt. Reds have to commit to putting a “ML skilled” player at a position instead of playing someone w/out the needed skills and trying to “make it work” and hoping for the best. When they start doing that consistently, then things might start turning around in Cincy.

      • MBS

        You’re definitely right, prospects are just that, prospects. I also agree that transitioning Barrero at AAA would be better than in the MLB.

    • Luke J

      I wholeheartedly believe Senzel every day is better than Farmer every day. Never assume an injury. If he’s 100% at spring training, you don’t assume he will get hurt, even if he has in the past.

      I also don’t believe McClain projects to be as good or better than Barrero at short. In fact, he is more likely to find a new position than Barrero.

      So no, I don’t think your #1 and #2 are correct. From my perspective your questions give a very clear answer.

      • 2020ball

        “Never assume an injury”

        Bingo. Odds actually are that Senzel finally sees himself a healthy season (not enough odds I’d place a bet on it though).

        McClain screams second baseman to me, but having him play SS even just occasionally would up his value a lot. Could also see him as trade bait if Barrero doesn’t flame out, McClain looks to already have a higher floor.

      • MBS

        I don’t assume an injury, but Assuming his health is even more of a mistake. If we put all of our CF eggs in the Senzel basket it might be great, but it could also be as disastrous as the last 3 years. Also if Senzel is healthy, we need a RF option as well.

  3. Mark Moore

    Or who they put on the field from the current roster this season (if we get to play at all).

  4. SOQ

    For the record, Farmer batted .298 for the month of September–and only went hitless in 5 games the entire month. Not bad for a fella who played the entire 2nd half of the season with abdominal hernia.

    • MuddyCleats

      Agree! I think we all realize he isn’t the future, proto typical SS of the future, but he’s been more than adequate for the time being.

      • CI3J

        But the question is, when does “the time being” come to an end? Farmer will turn 32 next season. That’s getting dangerously close to “fall off a cliff” territory. If and when that day comes, what do the Reds do then?

        The best approach is to be proactive and start preparing for it now, instead of being reactive and wait for the crisis to happen before trying to fix it.

      • MuddyCleats

        CI3J, well of course the future is Barrero which is why Reds have been playing him at SS in AA and AAA and there some in the ML. I’ve seen him play 3 times in AA. It’s easy to see he is an exceptional athlete very capable of playing SS. My guess is he starts the season in AAA which leaves Farmer or someone else starting at SS until Barrero is ready. Now the question is, will he out grow the position and of course, can he hit at the ML Level? Considering the lack of other FA acquisitions, I wouldn’t see the Reds making a move for another SS and you certainly wouldn’t want to block Barrero.

    • BK

      His BABIP in September (and July for that matter) were well above his personal norms and MLB averages indicating luck could have been a factor. His larger body of work says he’s below average offensively over an entire season. His age (31) says we shouldn’t expect dramatic improvement. I think he’s a valuable part of a good team as a versatile utility player, but his value as a starter is likely below average.

  5. AMDG

    Jose Barrero is perhaps the best defensive SS for the Reds since Larkin? And clearly the top defensive player in their minor league system.

    Yet, some folks want to throw him out of position for a mediocre 31 year old journeyman utility player who’s BEST YEAR in 2021 included an OPS+ of 86.

    To put that into perspective, Drew Stubbs, Chris Heisey, Chris Stynes and Derek Dietrich all have a career OPS+ better than the single-best season Farmer ever produced.

  6. Chris Mo

    I am a big fan of Farmer. He plays well, wherever you put him. He plays solid defense, hits just enough, and is also a player who “never got consistent playing time” until last year. I am also big fan of Barrero. In my mind, if Barrero wants the job, he has to outplay the guy in front of him on the depth chart. Senzel has had the at bats, and the opportunity, and has not shined (even when not hurt). I hope they all play well, and force someone else to the bench. Competition is supposed to bring out the best in professional athletes. What does it say if a healthy Farmer is able to keep the kids on the bench? Tells me the kids are not as good as we had all hoped.

    • Chris Holbert

      Barrero never really got a chance to win the position. That is the DB way, play the veterans into the ground, and et the young legs sit the bench as utility guys.

      • 2020ball

        You should ask India how he feels about that statement.

      • greenmtred

        I doubt that it’s any more the DB way than it is most other managers’ way: When your team is in contention, you don’t generally use games as opportunities for tryouts. Had Suarez been the only shortstop, it might have been a different matter.

      • Luke J

        @2020ball Go ahead, ask him. If Bell had his way, India was on his way back to AAA. It was injuries that forced Bell’s hand to finally give India a shot. And look what happened. It shouldn’t take several injuries for a young up and coming star to get a shot over mediocre veterans who are performing at or below league average.

      • 2020ball

        “Go ahead, ask him. If Bell had his way, India was on his way back to AAA.”

        Hahaha, thats ridiculous. Find me a quote, otherwise thats just a bunch of bullhocky you came up with to help your argument. That at or below league avg those guys were performing was better than Barrero was performing, end of story. Barrero will win the position in time, but he has to earn it not just be given it.

  7. SOQ

    Of the 2021 starters that are still under contract with the Reds, only India, Farmer, Suarez and Stephenson (since Tucker is gone, I’m counting him as a starter), stayed healthy enough to not miss significant playing time. I think there will be plenty of playing time available in 2022 for many to show off their skills, given the injury history of most of our players. I think versatility will be an asset moving forward.

    • MuddyCleats

      Your take is interesting. Those players mentioned FIT / have the skills required, at their position which, as I’ve alluded to in the past, may be one reason they stay more healthy?

  8. AMDG

    Barrero hit in AA (0.300 / 0.367 / 0.481)

    Barrero hit even better in AAA (0.306 / 0.392 / 0.594)

    Barrero then got called up to the majors, and in his first 2 games was hitting 0.500 / 0.667 / 0.750 (although only over 6 plate appearances).

    At this point Barrero was the hottest hitter in the Reds’ organization and was playing great defense. All signs were pointing to the Reds (who were still in the playoff hunt) finally getting something resembling offense from the left side of the infield.

    And then, for some inexplicable reason, David Bell proceeded to bench Barrero.

    He was benched for a week, losing any momentum he had built up. Then he finally got to start a couple games, only to be benched for 2 more weeks, before finally getting some playing time at the very end of the season.

    Now, here’s the fun part…

    There were only 6 games this year when Bell let Barrero start and play the entire game at shortstop. And in those games he hit 0.318 / 0.348 / 0.545 😉

    • CI3J

      It’s literally a replay of Jerry Narron and Edwin Encarnacion.

    • Old Big Ed

      In pre-season 1968, the Reds foolishly traded away proven veteran catcher Johnny Edwards, a 3-time All-Star who had just finished his age 29 season. Edwards had a career OPS+ of 87 for the Reds. The Reds made this odd move because they wanted to replace Edwards with a rookie catcher who had not shown much at all at the plate in 93 PAs in 1967. That rookie had an OPS of only .462 and an OPS+ of 26 in 1967.

      They seem poised to repeat this mistake with Jose Barrero, who has offensive stats as unimpressive as the young catcher in 1967, with an OPS of .490 and OPS+ of 28. And they will do so at the expense of Kyle Farmer, who last year in his age 30 season had an OPS+ of 86 for the Reds, also at a premium defensive position.

      Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it!

      • Old-school

        Kyle Farmer hit a cool .440 (11-25) in September against the AA Pirates and an even .400 for the year against the Pirates (24-60).

        Take away the Pirates stats and run the numbers.

        It’s gonna be an OPS below .700.

        Farmers numbers after 200 at bats on July 1 were awful.

        Kyle Farmer is a solid defender and good role player.
        Kyle Farmer gives you a good at bat against left handed pitchers
        Kyle Farmer has never hit RH pitching.
        Kyle Farmer turns 32 in 2022
        Kyle Farmer is a Pirate killer in September against a 100 loss team playing minor leaguers.

      • greenmtred

        Pre-season. Not in the middle of a pennant race. Most hitters probably hit better against poor teams or, more accurately, poor pitchers. If Barrero is never given a legitimate shot, by all means say you told me so. I expect that he will.

    • VegasRed

      I can’t understand some opinions on here that anti-Barrero. Reds need to see what this has got and he needs 400-500 AB’s to do that.

      It’s not like the reds are trying to win in ‘22 any way.

  9. VegasRed

    Give it a rest Ed! You and Burtgammer act like Barrero messed with your daughter or something. Farmer is not a mlb starting SS!

    Reds need to give Barrero a chance to see what they have. It’s not like the next season will matter anyway.

    • Optimist

      May want to re-read Old Big Ed’s comments about 1967. Johnny Edwards was a lot better than Kyle Farmer, though Farmer is the emergency 4th catcher.

    • Old Big Ed

      Yeah, Vegas, you seemed to miss the point. You may want to check who that rookie catcher was in 1967-68 – I assumed that even a lukewarm Reds fan would instantly know who that rookie catcher was.

      I am wholeheartedly behind Barrero as the shortstop in 2022. If they were faced with the same choice between Barrero and Farmer, all 29 other teams would also be wholeheartedly behind Barrero. He has nothing more to prove in the minor leagues, and to me he has already earned the shortstop job. I thought he had earned the shortstop job in early August 2021.

      The Reds aren’t going to actually say that Barrero is the starting shortstop, but my guess is that 100% of the front office and coaching staff understand that Barrero needs to start the season as a regular.

      • AMDG

        I figured every reader would have know you were referencing the 2nd round pick from Binger, Oklahoma? 🙂

  10. VegasRed

    Yeah that analogy went right over my head- my bad. But that just makes the point clearer: the reds have had no one at SS since Cozart. Farmer is good utility guy, not an everyday Ss on a contending team. Barerò is the future-just needs 500-1000 abs in majors to come into his own, like others have had. 2020 killed or stopped progression of talent across the board in minors and majors. Same with senzel. The reds are going nowhere in 22 and likely 23 as well. Play all the kids.

    Atlanta started glavine, Avery, scholtz and Maddux for a few years until they found their way. Play the kids for 2 years and then hire a real manager and gm to make run in 24.

    If there are any fans left in Cincy by 24….

    • Optimist

      Understood that it was a different era, and so forth, but take a look at Concepcion’s first 3 years, especially the second and third – almost uniformly miserable offensive production. Sure, he was a defensive wizard, and yes, the underlying BB/K ratio was excellent, and yes he wasn’t quite the everyday starter, but they clearly saw the development coming.

      Considering how everyone considers Barrero a similar defensive talent, if SS was the biggest hole to fill they could give him 350-400 ABs for several years to prove himself – if Farmer is as capable as it seems they think, there should be no issue. The problem is not many of us think they’ll take this course, and why should we? The India case seems the exception rather than the rule.

      OTOH, the may finally have enough starting pitchers that they can use the 5th – 8th for 75-100 innings each, as well as occasional long relief outings, and not have a drastic drop off in production. That would be nice as well.