MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Top 5 Drafts list begins with Minnesota

Top 5 Drafts list begins with Minnesota

Before this year, the last time the Twins owned the No. 1 overall pick in the Draft was 2001. They hit it big with Joe Mauer, but got little else out of the 50 total rounds, save for a few decent seasons out of Nick Blackburn and cups of coffee from Jose Morales and Kevin Cameron.

Minnesota has the potential for a much deeper haul this time around. No team made a better first impression in the 2017 Draft.

The Twins started things by selecting California high school shortstop/outfielder Royce Lewis. While his selection was somewhat of a surprise after it seemed Minnesota was looking at college pitchers -- first Vanderbilt's Kyle Wright, and then Louisville's Brendan McKay -- Lewis was a legitimate No. 1 pick, and offered a better combination of hitting ability and tools than any player available.

With two more picks on the first day, the Twins added Mississippi State first baseman Brent Rooker in the supplemental first round, and Canadian high-school right-hander Landon Leach in the second. Rooker had the best season of any college hitter this spring, joining Rafael Palmeiro as the only triple crown winners in Southeastern Conference history. Leach already reaches 95 mph with his heavy sinker, and has more projection remaining in his 6-foot-4 frame.

Minnesota began Day 2 by taking the highest-rated player still available in Louisiana prep right-hander Blayne Enlow. The third-rounder possesses the best curveball in the Draft, while fourth-rounder Charlie Barnes, a Clemson University left-hander, owns the best changeup. Central Arizona College's Ryley Widell (seventh round) is another polished southpaw with a nifty changeup.

Third baseman Andrew Bechtold (fifth round), who helped Chipola (Fla.) win the Junior College World Series, has a chance to hit for both power and average. Puerto Rico high schooler Ricardo De La Torre had first-round aspirations coming into 2016, before having a rough spring and dropping to the sixth round, yet he's still a legitimate shortstop and has intriguing power potential. The first pick of the third day yielded another Puerto Rican with pop in outfielder Gabriel Rodriguez (11th).

After the Twins, these are the franchises that had the best Drafts (factoring in expected signability).

2. Reds
Cincinnati followed Minnesota in the Draft order, and again in our rankings. With the No. 2 overall pick, the Reds grabbed the top player on their list (and also MLBPipeline.com's) in California prep right-hander Hunter Greene, who delivers an upper-90s fastball and reaches triple digits with as little effort as any pitcher in the Draft era.

Reds draft RHP Greene No. 2

The Reds also landed one of the best shortstops available in Florida prepster Jeter Downs (supplemental first round), one of the best up-the-middle collegians in Wake Forest center fielder Stuart Fairchild (second) and one of the better high-school left-handers in Alabaman Jacob Heatherly (third).

Florida high school shortstop Cash Case (fourth) is a switch-hitter with pop, and Southeastern Louisiana University righty Mac Sceroler (fifth) has the makings of three solid pitches. Cincinnati looks like it spent most of its money in the early rounds, but signing Florida prep righty Tommy Mace (12th) and/or Ohio high-school lefty Seth Lonsway (19th) would be a nice bonus.

3. Pirates
Pittsburgh went big on the first day, taking four high schoolers in Texas right-hander Shane Baz (first round), Tennessee righty Steve Jennings (second), California outfielder Cal Mitchell (second) and Oklahoma outfielder Conner Uselton (supplemental second).

Bucs select Baz in 2017 Draft

Baz has a fastball that hits 98 mph, and a cutter that can be unhittable. The athletic Jennings also could have two plus pitches as well in his heater and slider. Mitchell's power potential could have landed him in the first round before a rough spring, while Uselton has considerable pop as well.

Though that quartet will soak up much of the Pirates' bonus pool, they also got two Cape Cod League offensive standouts in Florida State third baseman Dylan Busby (third) and St. Joseph's catcher Deon Stafford (fifth), plus the type of projectable high-school righty they're known for developing in Californian Cody Bolton (sixth).

4. Brewers
Milwaukee began with two position players -- UC Irvine outfielder/second baseman Keston Hiura (first round), the Draft's best pure hitter, and Texas high-school outfielder Tristen Lutz (supplemental first), one of the most promising sluggers available.

Brewers draft 2B Hiura No. 9

The Brewers added more positional talent with college performers in Oregon State first baseman/catcher KJ Harrison (third) and Louisville shortstop Devin Hairston (sixth), and high schoolers with raw power in New Jersey third baseman Nick Egnatuk (fifth) and California outfielder Je'Von Ward (12th; he also has plus speed).

They didn't ignore pitchers, collecting Alabama high school right-hander Caden Lemons (second), Illinois prep left-hander Brendan Murphy (fourth), Chipola (Fla.) JC righty Bowden Francis (seventh) and Utah righty Jayson Rose (eighth).

5. Blue Jays
One of three teams with two first-round picks, Toronto used its selections on the top college shortstop (North Carolina's Logan Warmoth) and the owner of the best fastball in the college ranks (JC of Central Florida right-hander Nate Pearson).

Blue Jays pick SS Warmoth No. 22

California prep right-hander Hagen Danner (second) can also light up radar guns, and interested some teams more as a catcher. University of San Diego catcher Riley Adams (third) has impressive arm strength and power potential, while University of Maryland shortstop Kevin Smith (fourth) and William & Mary second baseman Cullen Large (fifth) are offensive-minded middle infielders.

Wake Forest right-hander Donnie Sellers (11th) and Minnesota State-Mankato lefty Brody Rodning (13th) are quality third-day selections. Want a sleeper from the really late rounds? Try University of South Carolina-Sumter outfielder DJ Neal (26th), who began his college career as a wide receiver at the University of South Carolina.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.