There have been many twists and turns in the professional development of Jose Barrero. His name change to honor his grandmother, his time in centerfield towards the end of 2021 (and what that could mean for his future), and just where he is on the prospect spectrum at the moment are just three, at the moment.
Defining just who is a ‘prospect’ can even be difficult in some instances, something highlighted by Barrero’s prominent spot as the highest rated Cincinnati Reds farmhand in today’s latest update by Baseball America to their Top 100 overall prospects list. See, we didn’t include Barrero in our own Community Prospect Rankings, nor did MLB Pipeline when ranking them, either. Such is the nitpicking when there are multiple thresholds for players to cross that can signify ‘graduating’ from prospect status to full-grown big-leaguer, with the pandemic-shortened 2020 season also throwing things into nebulous status.
By some estimations, Barrero has already accrued enough service time to take him out of rookie status, meaning he no longer qualifies as a ‘prospect.’ That’s not the case in the eyes of BA (and others), however, so for now they consider him still the top prospect within the Cincinnati system, ranking him as the #33 overall prospect on this list.
Whether or not he’s still a ‘prospect’ is beside the point, really, since either way he’s a potentially elite combination of power, speed, and defense who, at age 24, is poised to be a big, big part of the Reds from whenever the outset of the 2022 big league season may be. Ideally that would be at shortstop, his natural position, though his cameos in CF late last year at the big league level could signify he, like Trea Turner years ago, might get shoehorned into a greater position of need until the roster around him fits differently.
Following closely behind him on BA’s Top 100 are both Hunter Greene (35th) and Nick Lodolo (36th), the two arms poised to reshape both the present and future of the Reds starting rotation. 1st round picks of the Reds back in 2017 (Greene) and 2019 (Lodolo), both reached AAA Louisville in various forms during the 2021 season, and with the openings in Cincinnati’s rotation at the moment, it’ll be quite interesting to see how each are managed at the outset of the 2022 season to help step in.
The fourth and final member of the Reds contingent to crack BA’s Top 100 is Elly De La Cruz, who checks in 77th overall. His meteoric rise came entirely on the heels of a breakout 2021 campaign, since prior to its start he’d done nothing put post a .733 OPS in 186 PA as a 17 year old with the Reds Dominican Summer League team in 2019. While the minor leagues were sidelined in 2020, though, clearly Elly made some serious strides, and the tools he had on display in the Arizona League and later with Low-A Daytona in 2021 had him the talk of most all scouts league-wide.
All told, it’s a quite impressive showing from the Reds farm, a reflection of how it’s been continually revamped despite graduating a host of impressive talent in recent years, highlighted by none other than 2021 National League Rookie of the Year Jonathan India.