Building on an earlier Pepper Jack post, the game is cyclical; it is always changing. It went from power bats to power arms. Teams now have multiple high 90's arm coming out of the pen. High contact guys that can hit 20-25 HR's are becoming more valuable.
High ceiling guys are very important, but they are high risk also. A team must come away from every draft with 2-3 major league players. There is a need to balance risk with some safe choices. To me, Howard was taken because the Reds believed he could be a starter and reach the majors in a relatively short period.
There is risk there. Still, fall back is a top bullpen arm. Sparks is high risk/high reward. Awesome power with a lot of swing and miss in his game. Sandwiched between these picks is Blandino, a relatively safe pick who profiles as an offensive minded second baseman. I think you need to look at all three picks together.