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AL Central fantasy division preview

We're spinning around every division in baseball for their biggest fantasy baseball stories and players.

AL East  | Central | West ... NL East | Central | West


1B Edwin Encarnacion, Indians: He walks the parrot to, surprisingly, a better hitting park and – at this stage in the offseason – lineup than Rogers Centre. Even at age 34, he's a logical pick for power in the second or third round.

2B Yoan Moncada, White Sox: Moncada may not start the year in majors, but he should have a clear path to usurp uninspiring alternatives. He's a fine middle- or late-rounds mixed target.

1B/OF Brandon Moss, Royals: Has the power to overcome Kauffman Stadium's power restrictions and should remain relevant as a late-rounds run-producer.

OF Jorge Soler, Royals: Holes still plague his swing and approach, but the slugger likely will play close to every day, and Kauffman Stadium isn't as pitcher-friendly as commonly believed. Mark him as a fifth mixed outfielder with upside on draft day.

SP Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, White Sox: These unpolished but alluring prospects may not make their biggest impact until 2018, but Chicago might start the auditions early. For another Pale Hose youngster, check the Prospects section below.

SP Nathan Karns, Royals: The intriguing strikeout arm has a decent shot at a rotation gig, but just about everything else in his profile needs work.

C Jason Castro, Twins: He has enough power to garner occasional use in two-catcher mixed leagues. His biggest impact, however, will be helping Minnesota pitchers work the corners.


OF Michael Brantley, Indians: Spring work will determine whether the former MVP candidate can be a fantasy starter or a mere stash after August right biceps surgery and continued rehab on his right shoulder.


SP Danny Duffy, Royals: He's already going to be highly coveted after 2016, with that K increase during his stay in the rotation. Expect to pay SP2 or SP3 prices.

SS Tim Anderson, White Sox: Not enough people are talking about this power-speed threat. He doesn't walk much and may need to learn a bit on the job, but he put the ball in play to successful degrees on the farm (BABIPs of .369 or higher at every level) and could rattle off 30-plus homers plus steals.

SP Carlos Rodon, White Sox: Love that control improvement (4.59 BB/9 in 2015 debut, to 2.95 in 2016). Strong strikeout build has him on track for big step forward if he can learn to work better around the plate.

3B Nick Castellanos, Tigers: Improved his slugging percentage and ISO for the second straight year and was on pace to challenge for 30 home runs before he suffered a broken left hand. Better to aim for 20 in 2017, but tools are there for more.

OF Max Kepler and Byron Buxton, Twins: Kepler is already the more polished and safer player – the better masher with enough plate discipline to help his line. Buxton's speed is worth chasing late in mixed drafts, and more seasoning may allow his power to blossom.

SP Daniel Norris, Tigers: His ERA will balloon a bit, especially if issues with the long ball continue. But as with Rodon, Norris' strikeout potential leaves room for speculation.

Deep sleepers

OF Charlie Tilson, White Sox: The wide-open South Side outfield carves a path for Tilson, who lost his chance to do so last year thanks to a strained hamstring. The 24-year-old could steal 20-plus bags in a full season, even if it's platoon-defined.

2B Raul Mondesi, Royals: Potential clearance-rack buy for stolen bases, but if he can't claw his way to double-digit home runs, his value elsewhere will wind up quite empty.

DH Kennys Vargas, Twins: The 10 home runs in just 47 games hints at the potential for an out-of-nowhere power breakthrough. He whiffs a lot but also walks a bunch, so OBP leaguers should certainly take note.

SP Matthew Strahm, Royals: A Todd Zola favorite, the lefty boasts skills that could play either as a starting pitcher or a high-leverage reliever. Drafting talent without a role often pays off.

SP Jose Berrios, Twins: Control is almost non-existent, but his velocity and arsenal can eventually make him a useful fantasy option. The 22-year-old could succeed ahead of schedule if he's paired with Castro and the framing expert bolsters his work around the corners.


SP Carlos Carrasco, Indians: Many will fear Carrasco's history of injuries, but the recent ones are mostly freak instances. He has some of the best skills of any fantasy pitcher.

3B/OF Jose Ramirez, Indians: Don't rely on more growth, but his floor at various positions, which may also include second base and shortstop, will be overlooked.

3B/OF Miguel Sano, Twins: Luckily for profit seekers, he's not a top-50 pick anymore in mixed leagues. Pounce on his elite power.

DH Victor Martinez, Tigers: Perhaps doubt in sustaining his power makes sense, considering he's 38, but when he's available in the late rounds, don't hesitate.


SP Michael Fulmer, Tigers: The 24-year-old's long-term upside is certainly palpable, but the AL Rookie of the Year will take a step back, especially with ERA and left-on-base percentage. Of course, his 10.4 swinging-strike percentage and 61.1 first-strike rate say his strikeout count should improve.

On the rebound

OF J.D. Martinez, Tigers: JDM didn't launch as many fly balls last season, which was interrupted by a fractured elbow. However, his consistent hard contact will allow him to return to the 30-homer plateau, if not easily eclipse it like he almost did in 2015.

SP Danny Salazar, Indians: Control woes resurfaced in an up-and-down season, but his K/9 is still worth chasing.

Position battles to watch

White Sox 2B/DH: Can Moncada force his way onto the big club immediately?

Indians OF: Potential openings in two or all three outfield spots, thanks to Brantley's recovery and Tyler Naquin's flaws. Lonnie Chisenhall, Brandon Guyer and Abraham Almonte – along with prospects Greg Allen and Bradley Zimmer – may fight to take the lead.

Royals No. 4 and 5 SP: Karns, Strahm, Jason Vargas, Mike Minor (shoulder) and Kyle Zimmer (shoulder) are options.

Prospects for 2017

Midseason or later

OF Greg Allen and Bradley Zimmer, Indians

C Francisco Mejia, Indians

SP Michael Kopech, White Sox

For more minor league coverage, check out our Prospects page.

Closer chronicles

Will the White Sox trade David Robertson to open things up for Nate Jones?

Cleveland's Cody Allen sits on a perpetual hot seat with Andrew Miller behind him.

Francisco Rodriguez re-signed with Detroit, but don't lose track of the resurgent Bruce Rondon.

Kelvin Herrera takes over after the Royals traded Wade Davis. He'll be elite in his own right.

Groundballer Brandon Kintzler saved the Twins last year after Glen Perkins (shoulder) was shut down, though his grip on the job may loosen if his performance slips and numerous options like Trevor May get healthy.

Injury watch

Ready for spring training/start of season

1B Eric Hosmer, Royals (wrist)

OF Lorenzo Cain, Royals (wrist)

3B Mike Moustakas, Royals (knee)

RP David Robertson, White Sox (knee)

SP Jordan Zimmermann, Tigers (neck)


OF Michael Brantley, Indians (shoulder)