Thanks to the 94 wins the Twins accumulated in 2010 en route to the American League Divisional Series, Minnesota's 2011 first-round draft pick came in at #30 overall. If that seems a little low for a team that went out in the ALDS, that's because it is. No fewer than seven additional picks were slotted in, thanks to the old free agent compensation system.
Minnesota took Levi Michael with the 30th overall pick that year, but since then have spent four consecutive seasons picking near the top of the draft. Byron Buxton (2012, #2), Kohl Stewart (2013, #4), Nick Gordon (2014, #5), and Tyler Jay (2015, #6) have all done wonders to boost the organization's minor league talent and future potential of the Major League team, but thanks to an 83-win season in 2015 the Twins will have their lowest draft position in five years when the 2016 MLB Draft comes around.
It's far too early to guess who Minnesota could be looking at for their first-round pick. But one thing is likely: with their first-round pick now unprotected, it would go against everything we know about the Twins to see them sign a free agent with draft pick compensation attached. (At some point this fall we'll take a poll to see which free agents, if any, you'd be happy to see the Twins sacrifice their first-round pick for.)
Just for kicks, here's a look at the last 30 years of #17 draft picks. Their career rWAR will be in parenthesis.
- 2015: Brady Aiken, Indians
- 2014: Brandon Finnegan, Royals (0.8)
- 2013: Tim Anderson, White Sox
- 2012: D.J. Davis, Blue Jays
- 2011: C.J. Cron, Angels (-0.1)
- 2010: Josh Sale, Rays
- 2009: A.J. Pollock, Diamondbacks via Dodgers (14.8)
- 2008: David Cooper, Blue Jays (0.1)
- 2007: Blake Beavan, Rangers via Astros (1.5)
- 2006: Matt Antonelli, Padres (-0.2)
- 2005: C.J. Henry, Yankees via Phillies
- 2004: Scott Elbert, Dodgers (1.5)
- 2003: David Murphy, Red Sox (10.2)
- 2002: Cole Hamels, Phillies (46.1)
- 2001: Dan Denham, Indians via Red Sox
- 2000: Ben Diggins, Dodgers (-0.7)
- 1999: Rick Asadoorian, Red Sox via Angels
- 1998: Brad Lidge, Asros via Rockies (8.2)
- 1997: John Curtice, Red Sox
- 1996: Todd Noel, Cubs
- 1995: Roy Halladay, Blue Jays (64.6)
- 1994: Ramon Castro, Astros (3.1)
- 1993: Scott Christman, White Sox
- 1992: Jim Pittsley, Royals via Padres (-1.0)
- 1991: Eduardo Perez, Angels (1.0)
- 1990: Jeromy Burnitz, Mets (19.7)
- 1989: Cal Eldred, Brewers (16.2)
- 1988: Charles Nagy, Indians via Giants (25.3)
- 1987: Alex Sanchez, Blue Jays (-0.6)
- 1986: Scott Scudder, Reds (-1.2)
- 1985: Brian McRae, Royals (14.1)
That's an interesting mix, as you'd expect. Ten never made (or have yet to make) their Major League debut. Another six accumulated negative career value, although C.J. Cron seems likely to come out in the black sooner rather than later. Then there's a potential Hall of Famer (Halladay), one of the best pitchers currently in baseball (Hamels), a short list of All-Stars who are now retired (Nagy went to three, Burnitz went to one, Lidge had a pair), and then Murphy and Pollock who are having decent careers of their own. Picking seventeenth isn't as sexy as picking fifth, but good players are found everywhere.
Minnesota could eventually move up these standings a spot or two, depending on whether any of the teams ranked 11th through 16th choose to sign a restricted free agent. Is there any way to win more games but still pick in the top five or six spots of the draft every year? Because that would be ideal.