Jose Barrero is being called up from Triple-A Louisville to join the Cincinnati Reds according to Francys Romero of MLB.com. It will be the first time this season that Barrero has gotten the call up to the big leagues.
When spring training began, Jose Barrero’s wrist wasn’t feeling quite right and he had it examined. Turns out that he had a broken hamate bone and the only real solution for that injury is to have the bone removed. That surgery, and the recovery that followed, cost Barrero all of spring training, all of April and the first three weeks of May. The shortstop joined the Louisville Bats in Triple-A on May 20th on a rehab assignment (since he’s on the 40-man roster and was injured before the team made roster moves he was technically on the big league injured list the entire time).
To say that Barrero struggled out of the gate would be an understatement. He hit .204/.316/.449 with 24 strikeouts in 57 plate appearances before he was activated from the injured list by the Reds and then optioned to Triple-A. He showed some power when he made contact, but he simply wasn’t making contact – striking out 42% of the time.
Things didn’t really improve over the next six weeks. In fact, they got worse. Over the first 33 games following his being optioned to Triple-A he hit .187/.225/.288 with just six walks and he struck out 56 times in 147 plate appearances. That’s a 38% strikeout rate, and it came with absolutely no power at all.
Over the last eight games, though, things have started to look better. Jose Barrero has hit .313/.333/.656 with three home runs in that span. He hasn’t drawn a walk and he’s still struck out nine times in 33 plate appearances (that’s a 27% strikeout rate), but given how his season has turned out so far, it’s a sign of life in a season that’s been missing it.
This call up is not at all like the call up in 2021. Last season Jose Barrero killed the baseball in the minors. He hit over .300 at both the Double-A and Triple-A level. In his 45 games in Louisville he hit .306/.392/.594 with 20 walks, 44 strikeouts, 10 doubles, and 13 home runs. He was doing exactly what you expect to see from one of the top prospects in baseball – raking. But when he was called up he didn’t get any sort of consistent playing time.
This year, even in the midst of a full on fire sale and rebuild, it’s tough to look at what Jose Barrero has done this season and think that now is the time to call him up, much less let him play every single day in the big leagues. Perhaps the last week-and-a-half in Louisville has unlocked something for him and he’ll get back to being the hitter he showed that he was last year in the minors, but that just feels like it’s a lot of hope rather than something that should be counted on happening.
Wrist injuries tend to linger for a while and change how hitters perform, even after they are “healthy”. That probably has a little bit to do with the lack of production this season from Barrero. But the wrist injury isn’t responsible for 11 walks and 89 strikeouts in 55 games, either. That’s an approach problem. That’s a pitch recognition problem. Barrero’s going to have to figure that out – something he’s done much better with in the past – if he’s going to have any shot of hitting big league pitching. Guys in the majors throw better offspeed stuff, they locate it better, and they disguise it better.
With the team trading away half of the roster (don’t do the math on this) in the last week, someone has to come up and fill out the roster. Maybe Barrero can take this opportunity and run with it. But it feels like he would have been better suited to continue to get back to things in Triple-A where he’s been struggling for the better part of two-and-a-half months now than tossed into the big leagues where he might sit on the bench five days a week.