The most notable change is that the draft will go from 40 rounds to just five. The number of rounds “can be increased at MLB’s discretion,” Rosenthal reported.
The date of this year’s draft also could be pushed back. It’s scheduled to begin June 10, but according to Rosenthal, MLB hasn’t decided on a date. It won’t be held any later than late July, Rosenthal added.
The modifications to the draft are part of the deal MLB owners and the MLB Players Association agreed to for shortening the regular season since it currently is suspended due to the coronavirus.
This year’s draft is deep with talent from the collegiate and prep classes. It’s one of the deepest classes in recent memory and the decrease in picks will create roster issues at the collegiate level. It also will eliminate the amount of affordable talent MLB teams add to their system this summer.
MLB teams spent $316,563,984 on signing bonuses for 2019 draft picks. From that total, $237,345,700 was paid to players selected in the first five rounds, which is about 75 percent of the total bonus amount, according to Baseball America.
This ruling also will impact the 2021 draft. MLB can shorten the 2021 draft to 20 rounds, according to Passan.
These changes to the draft process have caught individuals associated with the draft by surprise. It also creates questions for the minor-league system, especially since MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred proposed in November to eliminate 42 minor-league teams.
Numerous scouts told the Baseball Prospect Journal before the reports surfaced that they expected the draft to be around 20 rounds if it was shortened. One high-ranking agent told Baseball Prospect Journal that “five rounds would be detrimental to the draft and the class” and will create “years and decades of damage.”
This is a developing story. Stay tuned to BaseballProspectJournal.com for all the latest news.
Read more stories on top 2020 MLB draft prospects here.
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for five years. He’s interviewed 191 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.