ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
AP file photo by Charlie Neibergall / Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels

The Detroit Tigers can feel certain about one thing: They have the No. 1 pick in the draft.

What that Major League Baseball draft will look like, when and where it will take place and how the selections will be made still aren't clear.

"It's going to present different challenges, probably," said Scott Pleis, Detroit's director of amateur scouting. "It's just going to be different. It's not going to affect the outcome; it'll just be a different way of coming to that outcome."

The NFL experienced that last week because of the coronavirus pandemic, conducting a remote draft with video screens, Zoom chats and other tech innovations that made the event popular with fans.

Normally, college baseball season would be in full swing right now, giving MLB teams a chance to monitor top prospects in the weeks leading up to the draft. But with college and high school games shelved because of the virus outbreak, front offices can only do so much in what is clearly an abnormal year.

Every team faces similar obstacles.

"The challenges have been that they stopped playing baseball about six weeks into the spring season," Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. "So that's been the biggest hurdle that we had to face. Fortunately, we dive into this draft thing very, very seriously. We got a lot done early on, especially the higher-round type of premier prospects. We have a really good feel of what's out there in the country."

some text
AP file photo by Patrick Semansky / Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo

Last month's deal between MLB and the players' union paved the way for changes to the draft, which was set to be held June 10-12 in Omaha, Nebraska, in conjunction with the College World Series.

Under the agreement, obtained by The Associated Press, MLB has the right to delay the dates of the 2020 and 2021 drafts to as late as July 20, and MLB may reduce rounds from 40 to five in 2020 and to 20 in 2021.

Signing bonuses may be deferred, and signing bonuses for undrafted players subject to the draft will be capped at $20,000.

If the draft were shortened all the way to five rounds, that would be no small thing.

Although the bulk of the value is clearly concentrated in the first few rounds, players taken in the sixth round or later can and do go on to productive big league careers — two-time National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom notably was a ninth-round pick by the New York Mets in 2010.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT