MLB.com Columnist

Fred Zinkie

Sleeper time: AL players to watch in 2016

Sleeper time: AL players to watch in 2016

With roughly one month remaining until Major League clubs invade Florida and Arizona for Spring Training, fantasy owners should take stock of potential sleepers for the 2016 season. Each American League club offers at least one name that may outperform a modest draft-day price tag.

Jonathan Schoop, second baseman (Orioles): Schoop missed much of the first half last season with a knee injury, but he made major strides when healthy -- hitting .279 with 15 homers over 305 at-bats. If the 24-year-old can sustain his recent improvements, he could be one of the few middle infielders to combine a helpful batting average with 25 homers in 2016.

Devon Travis, second baseman (Blue Jays): Travis had much of his rookie year wiped out due to shoulder woes, and surgery to repair the injury will likely cause him to start next season on the disabled list. Likely to be a late-round mixed-league selection in 2016, Travis could approach 15 homers and 10 swipes despite a delayed start date. The recent trade of Ben Revere opens the possibility that Travis may also serve as the sparkplug atop Toronto's high-scoring lineup, when healthy.

Starlin Castro, second baseman (Yankees): Castro posted a .671 OPS last season, but his strong finish -- he hit .335 with six homers after Aug. 1 -- fuels optimism heading into the 2016 campaign. He has not been a season-long mixed-league option since '12, but an offseason trade to the Yankees could give him the fresh start he needs to resurrect a once-promising career.

Castro's fantasy value on Yanks

Clay Buchholz, starter (Red Sox): Buchholz has been injury-prone and inconsistent since his breakout year in 2010. But with a 1.74 ERA in '13 and a 3.26 mark last season, he has proven to be a mixed-league asset when things are going well. Wise owners will invest a late-round pick in Buchholz, with the acknowledgement that he is unlikely to make 30 starts.

Drew Smyly, starter (Rays): Since joining the Rays during the 2014 season, Smyly has produced a 2.52 ERA with a 1.00 WHIP and a 9.5 K/9 rate. The southpaw has ace potential, if he can move past the shoulder woes that limited him to 12 starts last season.

Yan Gomes, catcher (Indians): A knee injury contributed to a disappointing 2015 season for Gomes, who hit .284 with 32 homers across the '13-14 campaigns. If healthy in '16, the native Brazilian could be one of the few catchers to hit for both average and power.

Byung Ho Park, first baseman (Twins): Even though Park compiled his numbers in the Korea Baseball Organization, his .343 average with 53 homers and 146 RBIs over 528 at-bats last season should not be quickly dismissed. Mixed-league owners can take a chance on the 29-year-old, with the knowledge that the waiver wire can offer alternatives at a deep position if he gets off to a slow start.

Twins introduce slugger Park

Nick Castellanos, third baseman (Tigers): Once a promising prospect, Castellanos hit .269 with nine homers over 245 at-bats after the 2015 All-Star break. Heading into his third full season, the 23-year-old may be ready to top the 20-homer mark for the first time.

Jarrod Dyson, outfielder (Royals): Despite amassing no more than 330 plate appearances in any season from 2012-15, Dyson racked up 126 steals in that span. Expected to have an expanded role this season, the speedster has the potential to top the Junior Circuit in swipes.

Carlos Rodon, starter (White Sox): A youngster with elite upside, Rodon posted a 1.81 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP across his final eight starts last season. If he can make some control gains in the coming campaign, the southpaw could combine a reasonable WHIP with a low ERA and a high strikeout rate.

Rodon's first complete game

Ryan Madson, reliever (A's): After three full seasons away from the Majors, Madson logged a 2.13 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP in 2015. The right-hander picked up 32 saves with the Phillies in '11, and he may be needed in the ninth inning if closer Sean Doolittle struggles with injuries for the second straight year. Likely to go undrafted in many mixed leagues, Madson has the potential to be a second-tier stopper.

Joaquin Benoit, reliever (Mariners): With a 1.98 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP across the past three seasons, Benoit offers a strong case to be the bullpen anchor in Seattle. Steve Cishek -- who recorded a 3.58 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP last season -- is expected to open 2016 as the Mariners' closer, but he could quickly relinquish the role to Benoit.

Rougned Odor, second baseman (Rangers): After being recalled on June 15 from a five-week stint in the Minors, Odor hit .292 with 15 homers across his final 336 at-bats of the season. Just 21 years old, the native Venezuelan could become a top-five fantasy second baseman in 2016.

Statcast: Odor's rocket home run

C.J. Cron, first baseman (Angels): With 27 homers across 620 career at-bats, Cron possesses the necessary power to garner mixed-league attention. Likely to reach the 500 at-bat mark for the first time in 2016, the slugger could approach the 25-homer and 75-RBI plateaus.

Lance McCullers, starter (Astros): Without his rough start on Aug. 3 -- in which he allowed six earned runs without getting out of the first inning -- McCullers would have registered a 2.80 ERA in his rookie season. If he can extend his debut performance -- which included a 9.2 K/9 rate -- over 180 innings in 2016, the right-hander could quickly become a mixed-league rotation fixture.

Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.