20 MLB Fantasy Sleepers You Should Target in 2016

by Clayton Richer | Posted on Monday, February 22nd, 2016
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As the baseball fantasy frenzy fast approaches, here are 20 undervalued fantasy sleepers in no particular order you should target in your upcoming draft. Regardless if your league is Roto or Head to Head, these 20 have the potential to turn some heads and become household names before seasons end.

Honourable Mentions:

Jameson Taillon

Byung-ho Park

Nathan Eovaldi

Henderson Alvarez

James Paxton

Odubel Herrera

Ben Paulsen

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Aaron Sanchez– Toronto Blue Jays

Sanchez started 11 contests last season before ending up on the disabled list for nearly 6 weeks with a right lat strain. The young hurler was dominant for the Jays out of the pen in the set-up role down the stretch and into the playoffs but has expressed his interest in starting. The 23-year old Sanchez worked out with teammate Marcus Stroman all offseason and put on 25-pounds of muscle which should bode well for his endurance. If Sanchez has a good spring, look for him to win the 5th spot in the Blue Jays rotation making him a great fantasy option for a team where run support wont be an issue.

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Kevin Pillar– Toronto Blue Jays

Pillar actually had a breakout season with the lumber in 2015 however it was mostly overshadowed by his “Superman” heroics game in and game out in centerfield. The 27 year-old swatted a healthy .278 with 12 round trippers and an efficient 25 steals in 29 attempts last season. Pillar is motivated to improve upon that and worked with hitting coach Bobby Tewksbary in the offseason, the same hitting coach of MVP Josh Donaldson. Pillar has hit at every level throughout his career, safe money is on Pillar in 2016, don’t miss the boat.

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Jackie Bradley Jr.- Boston Red Sox

Bradley spent much of last season back and forth from Pawtucket however he finally showed a flash of brilliance during the month August. The 25-year old hit .354 in 79 at bats after a dismal start to the season. It appears Bradley is the odds on favorite to make the starting nine and should build on his .249 average and 10 home runs in 2015. A quick start during Grapefruit League action could be just the extra confidence boost needed for a successful 2016 campaign.

JT Realmuto

J.T. Realmuto– Miami Marlins

Realmuto is a rare find for back-stops, the 24-year provides both speed and power to his offensive attack. Last season the catcher belted 10 home runs while swiping 8 bags in 12 chances in 126 games for the Marlins. Realmuto will once again be the main man behind the dish so look out for a breakout season from the big right-hander.

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Daniel Norris– Detroit Tigers

Norris had a whirlwind 2015 making his MLB debut with the Blue Jays. The hurler was then demoted after just 5 starts where he remained until being shipped off to Detroit in the David Price deal. If that wasn’t enough Norris would be diagnosed with thyroid cancer and undergo successful surgery in the offseason. Look for the left-hander to fit in to his new surroundings and own the bump for Detroit in 2016. Grab Norris a couple rounds early and you should be rewarded in the win column.

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Raisel Iglesias– Cincinnati Reds

Could 2016 finally be the year the big arm from Cuba finally puts it all together? The Reds may not win many ball games this season but look for Iglesias to finally breakout and assert himself as one of the premier arms in the game. The 26-year old had 3 straight starts at the end of August where he struck out 10 or more batters in those contests. The talent has never been mistaken, the question is can he do it consistently. Worth a late flyer pick in 2016.

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Ketel Marte– Seattle Mariners 

This may be the most interesting sleeper of them all for me. Marte made his MLB debut last season as a 21-year old and hit .283 with 8 stolen bases and a couple homers in 57 games for the Mariners. The youngster only has 84 games under his belt at the Triple A level and was signed as an amateur free agent at 16 by Seattle. He has a plethora of untapped potential. Look for Marte to run away with the shortstop position and become a valued commodity by the end of the season.

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Aaron Nola– Philadelphia Phillies

Nola will go muchly unnoticed on draft day due to the fact he play for the Philadelphia Phillies. However he is worth more than just a look especially in keeper leagues. The former 1st rounder made his debut last season and did not disappoint boasting a 6-2 record with a 3.59 era in 13 starts for the lowly Phillies. He will almost get you a strikeout an inning and tore through the minors. Nola is a great sleeper pick and has huge breakout potential in 2016.

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Jung Ho Kang– Pittsburgh Pirates

Kang is still on the mend from his surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus and a fractured tibia in his left knee. The Pirates brain-trust are hopeful for an April return which may allow you to grab Kang a little later in your draft. Kang made his debut last season after playing in Korea and turned some heads stroking a respectable .287 average with 15 home runs earning every day playing time at third base. Once healed from the injury and already over the culture shock of last year, Kang is a professional hitter and should improve on his numbers with the bat. Use a DL spot for him, it will be worth it later.

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Corey Dickerson– Tampa Bay Rays

Dickerson was dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays during the offseason after only playing in 65 games for the Rockies last season. The 26-year old outfielder battled plantar fasciitis and broken ribs last season prohibiting him from eclipsing his 2014 breakout numbers. Dickerson is a great buy low candidate with tons of upside who did not garner much attention outside of Colorado. I love this pick when trying to round out your outfield.

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Devin Mesoraco– Cincinnati Reds

The 27-year old catcher is nearly 100% healthy from last season’s hip surgery and may be a forgotten man for many on draft day. Mesoraco proved his worth in 2014 when he batted .273 with an .893 OPS and 25 round trippers for the Reds. He is worth the injury risk for that kind of offensive output behind the dish. Could be a hidden gem on draft day especially in two catcher leagues.

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Justin Bour– Miami Marlins

If you strikeout of some of the big swinging first basemen in your draft, have a look at the 27-year old from Miami. In his first full season in the majors Bour connected for 23 home runs while batting a respectable .262 in 446 plate appearances. The only hang-up with Bour is that he hasn’t lefties well over his career but new Manager Don Mattingly seems poised to anoint him the starting first baseman. Having Barry Bonds as a hitting coach shouldn’t hurt either. Worth a look.

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Trea Turner– Washington Nationals

Turner will enter spring training vying for the starting shortstop position against Danny Espinosa and Stephen Drew. Turner got the monkey off his back last season making his debut for the Nationals as a 22-year old. The youngster saw action in 27 games batting .225 with a homer and two stolen bases. The former 1st rounder hit .322 between two levels last season and is a big-time prospect. Worth a gamble even if he doesn’t win the job out of spring training, his time is not far off.

AJ Reed

A.J. Reed– Houston Astros

Reed is a bit of a wild-card pick as he has yet to make his major league debut or see action above Triple A. He will be battling for the Astros first base job against Jon Singleton this spring and nothing is guaranteed. However Reed is a beast who can mash, the 22-year old destroyed minor league pitching last season and may force the Astros hand real soon. Reed batted .340 with 34 big flies and 127 runs batted in between Single and Double A last season. Monitor his spring success closely, this one is legit.

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Joe Ross– Washington Nationals

Ross is a personal target of mine this fantasy season and is poised to do something special for the Nationals. The 22-year old got a taste of the majors last season and did not disappoint chalking up a 3.64 earned run average in 13 starts. The former 1st rounder should pencil in nicely at the back end of the Nationals rotation. Ross posted a 2.61 ear in 14 minor league starts last season so the time is now. Grab this one early folks, unless you are in a pool versus me. Blue-Chip target.

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Kenta Maeda– Los Angeles Dodgers

The 27-year old hurler will make his MLB debut after 8 seasons with the Hiroshima Carp of the Japan Central League. Maeda owns a 97-67 record with a 2.39 earned run average in 217 career starts in Japan. Maeda may not be as overpowering and lights out as Yu Darvish but I have a feeling he will be serviceable as potentially a number three starter for the Dodgers. If Maeda is still around in the 12-15 rounds, take him and stash him at the back end of your rotation.

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Michael Conforto– New York Mets

The Mets fast tracked Conforto to the majors last season and the 22-year old responded well. Conforto hit well in his first audition with the big club batting .270 with 9 bombs in 56 games. Look for Conforto to only get better with a little confidence and some World Series action under his belt. The Mets could do some damage in 2016 and Conforto will be front and center offensively. Great keeper pick!

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Steven Matz– New York Mets

Incredibly Matz may be the forgotten Mets hurler come draft day with the likes of Harvey, Thor and de Grom toeing the draft board ahead of him. Matz went 4-0 down the stretch last season with a minuscule 2.27 era and was also able to add the World Series to his resume. Matz will surely be on an innings cap this season but he is too good not to draft. He could be the best of the bunch in a few years, get him now.

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Randal Grichuk– St. Louis Cardinals

Grichuk had a coming out party in 2015 and really asserted himself as a legit talent before an elbow injury halted his season. The 24-year old hit .276 with 17 home runs in 2015 and could conceivably go yard 30 times in 2016 if he can keep his strikeout numbers down. Grichuk whiffed 110 times in 350 plate appearances for the playoff bound Cardinals last season. This is a definite target of mine this year and well worth the risk.

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Carlos Rodon– Chicago White Sox

Rodon is an uber talent with huge breakout potential in 2016. The former 1st rounder in 2014 made his debut last season as a 22-year old and showed flashes of greatness. He ended the season 9-6 with a 3.75 ERA while fanning 139 in 139.1 innings of work. He has CY Young potential if he can harness his stuff consistently. No matter what format you are playing, this should be a target high on your draft list.

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Clayton Richer
About the Author

Clayton Richer is an MLB scribe from north of the border with a slight bias for the Toronto Blue Jays. Clayton has also been the shop-keeper at Baseball Hot Corner since the sites inception in 2012. Follow and interact with Clayton on Twitter @MLBHotCorner or @ClaytonRicher

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