The final position battles are about to get a lot more serious now that the Indians made their first roster cuts.
Fifteen players were optioned to the minors yesterday leaving 44 players left in camp vying for 25 roster positions.
The battle for fifth starter became front and center yesterday when Aaron Laffey and Zach Jackson both pitched three strong innings and struggled in one, according to MLB.com beat writer Anthony Castrovince.
Castrovince left this little nugget in his story that sums up the position battle:
Also competing for the final rotation slot are Scott Lewis, yet another lefty, and non-roster right-hander Kirk Saarloos. But those candidates are less likely to win out, because both are also considered bullpen possibilities.
David Huff, another lefty contender, was reassigned to Minor League camp prior to the game.
If you are looking for a break down of how each prospect fared in camp before being sent down make sure you read Hoynes. He really has a thumb on their performance:
Here are some of the players who made a good impression:
• Sipp: He allowed one run in four appearances and gave every indication that he's recovered from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. Wedge said he'd still be in camp competing for the last spot in the pen if the Indians weren't being careful with him.
• Valbuena: He hit only .095 (2-for-21), but looked good at second base, solid at short and has a compact swing.
• Rondon: The 6-3 right-hander didn't allow a run in three innings over two appearances. The opposition hit .111 against him.
"He has a great fastball and he gets it easy," said Wedge. "His change-up is fantastic and his slider is coming."
• Santana: The switch-hitter was rated as the Tribe's top prospect by Baseball America. He impressed Wedge with his raw catching talent and his ability to drive the ball with power from both sides of the plate.
"He needs to get out and get a better feel for handling a pitching staff," said Wedge.
Santana had two hits in 11 at-bats, but drew six walks for a .471 on-base percentage.
• Hodges: He matched his scouting report, hitting well (.296), but still needing work at third base.
"He stands up there like a big-league hitter right now," said Wedge.
• Mills: The left-handed hitter showed he can drive the ball the other way. His six RBI were tied for fourth on the club.
• Salas: He was acquired from Tampa Bay early in camp. He didn't allow a run in three appearances, but the Indians want him to get in better shape so he could pitch out of the pen three or four times a week.
Our own Sheldon Ocker opted to profile prospect Wes Hodges today. Hodges is adept at hitting to all fields, something he has learned at a young age.