When you mention Joe Mauer, Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor, you're talking about state baseball royalty. Those three are the only native Minnesotans taken in the top 10 of the Major League Baseball draft since it started in 1965.

Max Meyer could join that list Wednesday night, when Gophers righthander goes from a college pitcher whose season ended abruptly because of the pandemic to a millionaire ballplayer.

"This is something I've dreamed about my entire life," Meyer said. "I've worked hard to put myself in this position."

The two-day draft has been significantly downsized from 40 rounds to five as MLB teams will be taking players whose seasons barely — or never — started in 2020.

The last Gophers player taken in the first round was Glen Perkins, 22nd overall by the Twins in 2004. Mauer was the No. 1 overall pick in 2001 out of Cretin-Derham Hall. Ex-Gophers Molitor (No. 3 in 1977 by Milwaukee) and Winfield (No. 4 in 1974 by San Diego) are in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Gophers catcher Dan Wilson, a native of Barrington, Ill., was taken seventh overall in 1990 by Cincinnati.

Meyer, 21, is ranked No. 9 among prospects by mlb.com, and has talked or interviewed with approximately half of the 30 MLB teams through Zoom.

"I would like to go to a team who wants me for who I am," said Meyer, drafted out of Woodbury High School by the Twins in the 34th round in 2017. "I want to also go to a team that wants to win soon."

Meyer's fastball hits the high 90s, but his devastating slider vaulted him to a lofty draft position. The 6-foot, 195-pounder went 3-1 with a 1.95 ERA while striking out an average of 1.7 batters every inning for the Gophers this season before the COVID-19 pandemic halted the season March 12.

"I've been working out five days a week, staying in shape," Meyer said. "Everything has been going really well."

The first round of the draft will be televised by ESPN and MLB Network; Meyer will watch from home with his family and will participate in the virtual coverage, similar to the highly successful NFL draft in April.

When players are taken in the first round is important financially. The first overall pick has a bonus slot limit of $8.4 million. The second pick is worth $7.9 million, the third $7.2 million, the fourth $6.7 million and the fifth $6.2 million. The 10th pick has a slot bonus value of $4.7 million, the 20th $3.2 million and the 27th (the Twins' pick) $2.6 million.

Major league scouting reports say Meyer is a bit shorter than ideal for a starting pitcher and projects eventually to a strong-armed reliever if he continues to throw a high percentage of sliders, which can be hard on an arm. He pitched out of the bullpen for the Gophers as a freshman and part of his sophomore season before coach John Anderson moved him into the starting rotation.

"The work he has put in has been impressive," Anderson said. "He dug in a little deeper to become a better pitcher."

Gophers pitching coach Ty McDevitt will tell you that Meyer, who was a standout for the Team USA college team the past two summers, is a big beneficiary of being a hockey player during his prep days. Most pitchers Meyer's size cannot generate the velocity he has on his fastball.

"The lower half of Max's body is really strong," McDevitt said. "He knows how to use the mound and ground to push off it for power."

There will be 160 players chosen Wednesday and Thursday, then all remaining draft eligible players can be signed as free agents. There is not expected to be a minor league season, which could limit the number of undrafted free agents signing.

Two other Minnesotans, both righthanded pitchers, are rated among the top 200 prospects by mlb.com. Trent Palmer of Anoka, who plays at Jacksonville, is No. 114 and Burnsville senior Max Carlson, who has committed to North Carolina, is No. 192.

Carlson's brother, Sam, signed with Seattle after being taken in the second round in 2017, when he edged out Meyer as the Star Tribune's Metro Baseball Player of the Year. Sam Carlson had Tommy John surgery in July, 2018, and wasn't able to pitch until spring training in February.