I can go either way on the next two. I'm leaning
6. Juan Paniagua - Has TOR potential, and as of now, is assumed to be more polished. It's an upside nod, but if you assume he's more polished and can move faster than the other arms he was with last year, then I think the upside wins here. The other raw arms like Underwood/Maples have a lot of work to do and are assumed to be further away. The fact that Paniagua has a good breaking ball negates any advantage Maples has on him, IMO. I just don't know if Pierce Johnson's upside is all that high. There really isn't another arm in the mix. Move to the bat side, and I'm not sure Villanueva's bat upside is enough to justify the nod here. I guess I can see an argument if you buy that he will add a bit more power, but I'm not sure. Vitters isn't really in the mix, IMO, as his upside is a bit more debatable and his defensive questions are a valid concern. No on Szczur, Alcantara, or Marco Hernandez here, leaving
7. Brett Jackson - I can buy Brett here. I was initially thinking about him at 5 (prefer Paniagua). The holes are glaring and obvious. Moreover, he might have to
a) Get a bit... for lack of a better word ... looser
b) Change his approach
It's easy to buy him not fixing this, this year, or ever. That said, he plays a solid defensive centerfield. He takes walks. Perhaps the biggest thing is this - his power is solid. If he has to move to a corner role, the power shouldn't be an issue. That's a big positive because if he can hit for enough of an average (and let's set the bar at a reasonable number ... say, .240), he can find a future in the bigs.
I think there's a gap after that, and I'm still debating the next guy in my head. I'll post a 3rd name now because Tim asked for it, but I still have Pierce Johnson, Arismendy Alcantara, and Christian Villanueva all lumped together. As of now, I'm leaning (sort of will go through my thought process on all three)
8. Christian Villanueva - I'm going back and forth on all three, although I have Alcantara/Villanueva a smidge ahead of Pierce Johnson. The argument for Johnson is easy - assumed to be a polished college arm, with a plus fastball, solid to good breaking ball, and a decent change (I think). I really am curious how that breaking ball shows against tougher competition, and that is the main thing holding me back for now. Mid-rotation ceiling, late inning arm potential. It's a nice package, but the other two are positional players hitting AA coming off a good year.
I was leaning Alcantara for awhile, but I'm sliding a touch over to Villanueva. I imagine I may be higher on Alcantara than most. As I've said before, it's not that I necessarily buy Alcantara. But he's going to be a 21 year old entering AA next year. He's got good tools. I know some are concerned about his lower half and whether or not he gets too big. I don't know if body-point analysis suggests the potential to add good weight growth to the frame (bad weight is a separate issue), and as of now, I think his tools now are good for short, but his consistency isn't there. It's a fair question if he can get more consistent. Offensively, a quick bat with some pop, and a decent approach makes him an interesting offensive specimen there. It's an interesting package.
For now, leaning Villanueva. I still have my doubts that his offensive ceiling is higher than Alcantara's by an appreciable amount. That said, he's more polished defensively, and he shouldn't grow out of the position. The weakness of recent and near future third base markets does admittedly play in my mind, as I wonder if we need to start valuing solid 3rd base prospects a bit more than in the past. But if he's ready to help defensively and has a decent bat, he could see time in the bigs sooner than later.