As spring training progresses into its final two weeks, the Cleveland Guardians continue to trim down their Goodyear roster. The picture of what the eventual 26-man Opening Day roster will look like has been made clearer after a flurry of moves over the last few days.
First, star catching prospect Bo Naylor was optioned to Triple-A Columbus last week, cementing Mike Zunino and Cam Gallagher as likely catchers for the Guardians while he continues to hone his bat in the minor leagues.
Then, on Sunday, Cleveland optioned left-handed prospect Joey Cantillo and outfielder George Valera to Columbus, and reassigned starters Logan Allen and Peyton Battenfield to minor-league camp. While Cantillo, Allen and Battenfield weren’t expected to break camp with the Guardians, Valera was fighting for an outfield spot amidst a crowded roster headlined by Myles Straw, Steven Kwan and Will Brennan.
Cantillo, who came to the Guardians in 2020 from the San Diego Padres as part of the Mike Clevinger deal, made just one appearance on Saturday for Cleveland, pitching a scoreless seventh inning against the Oakland Athletics, striking out one batter and walking another. He made just 14 appearances last year with Double-A Akron after overcoming another injury. Cleveland protected him from the Rule 5 Draft after the season and added him to the 40-man roster.
Valera, who currently ranks as the organization’s top position player prospect, re-injured his right hand on February 28, effectively ending his time in Goodyear. In December, he underwent surgery on that same hand to remove his hamate bone. Though he was a long shot to earn a spot on the big-league roster, Valera smashed 24 home runs between Akron and Columbus last season and will likely earn a call-up at some point this year.
Allen and Battenfield - acquired for Jordan Luplow and DJ Johnson in 2021 - both pitched scoreless innings in their final outing at major-league spring training on Saturday. Allen struggled in three appearances this spring, however, finishing with a 9.82 ERA while striking out just one batter and walking four. He led the Guardians’ minor-league system last year with 177 strikeouts through 132 2/3 innings, but went 9-8 with a 4.75 ERA. He is another pitcher who could make his debut with Cleveland this season, and will likely begin the year with Triple-A Columbus.
Battenfield, conversely, tossed a 1.68 ERA and held a .067 batting average against in three games this spring, striking out four batters and allowing just one run. Last year, he went 8-6 at Columbus and finished with a 3.63 ERA and 109 strikeouts.
Outfielder Richie Palacios, who just finished participating in the World Baseball Classic with the Netherlands, seems to be the sole outlier that remains with the big-league camp and will likely find himself out of the rotation and back in Columbus soon. Last year, he was optioned back to Triple-A after slashing .232/.293/.579 in 54 games while knocking in ten RBI.