NL Central Links: Wong, Reynolds, Baez, Cubs

The CardinalsKolten Wong sits atop the list of baseball's 10 best second base prospects compiled by Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com. As Mayo points out, St. Louis' trade of David Freese allows Matt Carpenter to move to third base, opening second for the highly touted University of Hawaii product. Rougned Odor, Mookie Betts, Arismendy Alcantara, Devon Travis, Jonathan Schoop, Taylor Lindsey, Eddie Rosario, Micah Johnson and Wilmer Flores round out the free list, which also includes scouting reports on each prospect. Here's more out of the NL Central…

  • Fangraphs' Mike Petriello writes that the Brewers' signing of Mark Reynolds is more beneficial to them than it would be another club due to Milwaukee's historically bad group of first basemen in 2013. If Reynolds can even play at replacement level, he'd provide a four-win improvement, and with Miller Park being among the four best parks in the game for right-handed power, Reynolds could be above replacement level. While it could be a nice move, Petriello continues, Reynolds serving as the offseason's biggest move isn't a defensible outcome. Milwaukee has yet to sign a big league free agent, but they also haven't pulled the trigger on a rebuild, making their offseason puzzling, he concludes.
  • Top Cubs prospect Javier Baez will begin the season playing shortstop at Triple-A, but he could also receive some work at second base to accelerate his path to the Majors, writes Carrie Muskat of MLB.com in a wrap-up piece from this week's Cubs Convention. Director of scouting and player development Jason McLeod tells Muskat that the goal is for Baez to play short for as long as he can, but McLeod concedes that the 21-year-old has a lot of work to do on defense.
  • Muskat also writes that McLeod and president Theo Epstein have some history with righty Justin Grimm, who was acquired in the July haul for Matt Garza. McLeod drafted Grimm when he and Epstein were with the Red Sox, but Grimm elected to honor his commitment to Georgia. When McLeod and Epstein were scouting one of his college games, Epstein walked down 15 rows to jokingly tell McLeod, "You're fired" after seeing Grimm unload an array of 97 mph fastballs.
  • McLeod told Muskat that the team has scouted Masahiro Tanaka "extensively" over the past few years and that the evaluation process is complete. "…we'll find out in the next week," McLeod said regarding the former Rakuten ace.

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