It seems to be a two man race for the final spot in the rotation, as lefty Jeremy Sowers was optioned to Triple A Columbus.
The Vanderbilt grad pitched alright, posting a 4.91 ERA in 14 2/3 innings of work. Sowers will most definitely re-surface sometime in 2009.
The last remaining spot is down to Scott Lewis and Aaron Laffey. Shapiro had glowing things to say about Lewis yesterday, so don't be surprised to see Scotty in the No. 5 spot in the rotation to start the season.
Laffey has been pitching better of late, and will be the first starter called upon from the minors should an injury happen, or to replace the likely implosion of Carl Pavano. Here is the list of moves per The Plain Dealer.
"Left-hander Jeremy Sowers and catcher Wyatt Toregas were sent to Class AAA Columbus.
Right-hander Greg Aquino, infielder Michael Aubrey, right-hander Kirk Saarloos and outfielders Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley were re-assigned to minor league camp. There are currently 37 players in big-league camp."
As for the Sabathia tandem (Brantley & LaPorta,) both impressed while playing with the big league club. These two will be ever compared to one another as they were both key cogs in the CC Sabathia trade last season.
Michael Brantley was able to show his versatility in the outfield, playing all three spots quite well. His numbers (.313 BA, four stolen bases) were solid, and he seemed to already possess a big league demeanor passed down from his father, former big-leaguer Mickey Brantley.
Still only 21, Brantley will go down to Columbus and work on his game even more to become possibly the Tribe's future leadoff hitter.
Matt LaPorta played great this spring as well (.361 BA, six doubles, and a 1.050 OPS,) living up to his top prospect billing. LaPorta still needs to work on his fielding, but this former Gator seems only months, not years away from helping the Indians.
The other four players (Toregas, Aquino, Aubrey, and Saarloos) will compete for spots down in Columbus. It is interesting that no teams have really showed any interest in Aubrey, as he is batting .455 this spring.
Although he doesn't have much pop in his bat, Aubrey could be a useful player on a major league team that desires a gloveman at first with little power but a solid average (a la Doug Mientkiewicz/Sean Casey/Mark Grace-type.)
The roster is now down to 37. The late innings of these games will be rough to watch, as many of the current players on the bench are career journeyman (Cannizaro, Graffanino, and Valdez to name three.)
Thankfully, only less than two weeks remain until opening day!