Split Decisions: Online Extra

Five more that didn't make the magazine




Toolsy Young Outfielders: Desmond Jennings vs. Dexter Fowler

Jim Callis: These guys have very similar tools and the parallels even extend to not having made it through a full season in one piece. I like Jennings more, though, because he's a little faster, he has a better idea of the strike zone and I'm not as worried about his power.

Chris Kline: Two crazy athletes with big upside, but I think Fowler gets a little undersold because he missed half the year with wrist issues. The Rockies have expressed concerns about his long-term power internally, but he's still learning to hit from both sides. I'm still fully on the Fowler bandwagon.

Will Lingo: They're both former two-sport stars and just seven months apart in age, so there's not a whole lot to separate them, even though Jennings has much more buzz right now. He is slightly better in just about every way, and the only real advantages I see for Fowler are that he's a switch-hitter and has played at a higher level, but Jennings' better approach at the plate negates that.

John Manuel: Jennings had the bigger '07 season and he's a bit more physical. Fowler has similar tools and actually was better in the South Atlantic League in '06, though, even posting a better slugging percentage away from cozy McCormick Field (.466 vs. .458). I think his injury-plagued '07 season has made us forget about him some.

Premium Third Basemen: Chase Headley vs. Andy LaRoche vs. Ian Stewart

Jim Callis: This one comes down to whose bat you have the most faith in. For me, LaRoche has the best chance to hit for power and average in the major leagues. I like the other guys, too, but Headley has had one big year and Stewart has leveled off since tearing up the Sally League.

Chris Kline: Headley. I just think he's the most committed, and hits for power from both sides of the plate. It's a long shot for Stewart to replace Garrett Atkins at third base anyway, and I have questions about LaRoche's ability to reach what could be his long term ceiling.

Will Lingo: They're all top 25 guys for me, but I don't understand why Headley doesn't get more play. He outperformed both the other guys last year in a tough hitter's park and got plenty of praise for his defense as well in the Texas League, though he might break into the San Diego lineup as an outfielder.

John Manuel: Stewart has been a personal favorite since his SAL days, and I still think he has the most hitting talent of this trio. However, LaRoche is no slouch and has a clear opportunity to make his case in 2008. Headley's power ranks third of this trio, which puts him third for me.

Teenage Hitters: Elvis Andrus vs. Angel Villalona vs. Fernando Martinez

Jim Callis: Andrus is easily the most well-rounded player of this trio, but I still wonder about how much offense he's going to provide. I'll take one of the bat-only guys, and for me, it's Villalona. The Mets aren't doing Martinez any favors by rushing him, and Villalona is ultimately going to be more productive.

Chris Kline: Andrus. Everything he does is easy, and I think he's going to hit just fine. Easily the best instincts and athleticism out of this group, with leadership skills to boot. Villalona will likely be limited to first base and unlike everyone else on the planet, I'm just not a Martinez believer. His age is one thing, but show me something that translates into games.

Will Lingo: I've been impressed not only by Andrus' tools and all-around game but also by his desire to lead and get the most of his ability. Martinez will hit but I don't think if it will be enough to be a star, and I'm sorry, but when I see the photos of Villalona at 17 I just worry about him controlling his body. Of course, a teenage Prince Fielder wasn't exactly a pinup model either.

John Manuel: Andrus has the most athleticism of this group and his bat started coming around in the Cal League. He's still got a lot of projection but also has now tools defensively. Martinez and Villalona have more offensive potential for sure, and also lack much value other than their bats. If Andrus is an average hitter and premium defender at short, he'll be more valuable.

Corner Bats: Neil Walker vs. Chris Davis

Jim Callis: I had these guys back to back on my personal list, with Walker ahead of Davis. Davis has more pure power, but Walker has some pop too, he's a better bet to hit because he controls the strike zone a lot better and he's a better athlete who will be able to stay at third base.

Chris Kline: I love both guys for different reasons, and now that it looks like Davis will be a first baseman, you have to go Walker. Sure, Davis has much bigger power, but Walker was the better defender at third anyway and will hit for a higher average regardless of the position.

Will Lingo: Walker gets higher marks for his athleticism, which will allow him to stay at third, but I sort of deferred to Aaron Fitt on this one: If Davis is good enough to be No. 2 in an organization with as much talent as the Rangers, then I'm a believer.

John Manuel: Davis was moving to first base in spring training, a reason I think we liked Walker better in the first place. I also believe Walker will be more than solid offensively. Davis has more upside because of his power but reminds me of Dallas McPherson with all those strikeouts.

Catchers: Taylor Teagarden vs. Hank Conger vs. Bryan Anderson

Jim Callis: Conger has the most upside with the bat, but I like Teagarden more. He's underrated as a hitter and far superior defensively. He still needs to prove he can stay healthy, as does Conger. Anderson can't hang with those two guys outside of hitting for average.

Chris Kline: My guys out of this group are Teagarden and Anderson. Sure, Conger has more raw power than both, but Teagarden is the best defender on the menu. Anderson got killed for his defense last year—after the Futures Game when the World team ran wild—but that isn't a fair assessment of his current tools or where they will be in two years. Teagarden and Anderson each have offensive upside too, just not as much as Conger.

Will Lingo: I'm not convinced Anderson is going to be a good catcher after talking to guys in the Texas League last year, but I do believe he can stay there and I like his bat the best. The danger of personal observation: I've never been high on Conger after watching him have a bad round of BP at the 2005 Aflac Classic.

John Manuel: For a supposedly glove-first guy, Teagarden had a great season offensively. But he needs to prove he can catch everyday and hit like that for me to jump on board. Anderson's younger and handles a staff well, and seems to have the best combination of offense and defense of the trio.