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Detroit Tigers ready to pick 1st in shortened Major League Baseball amateur draft

Detroit Tigers pitcher Nick Ramirez throws to first base after fielding a ground ball from the Houston Astros during the sixth inning of a spring training game on March 9 in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP file photo)

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball’s shortened amateur draft will remain at the MLB Network studios in Secaucus, New Jersey, for the first round on June 10.

MLB shortened the selections to five rounds and 160 picks in response to the new coronavirus pandemic, by far the fewest since the draft started in 1965. Before the pandemic, the draft had been scheduled to take place at Omaha, Nebraska, ahead of the now-canceled College World Series.

Clubs were able to reduce the draft as part of their March 26 agreement with the players’ association. The combined value of their signing bonus pools is nearly $236 million and the amount of signing bonus pool money eliminated is close to $30 million.

The first 37 picks will take place on the opening day and the remainder on June 11. The deadline for selected players to sign was pushed back from July 10 to Aug. 1.

Detroit picks first, followed by Baltimore, Miami and Kansas City.

Houston was stripped of its first- and second-round selections as part of MLB penalties for using a video camera to steal catcher’s signs. Boston lost its second-round selection for improper use of video.

Baseball’s draft was long held by conference call at the commissioner’s office in New York. The draft was moved to Lake Buena Vista, Florida, for 2007 and 2008.

Residents of the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico are subject to the draft.

As part of the agreement with the union, slot values to determine signing bonus pools will remain at 2019 levels and players passed over in the draft are limited to signing bonuses of $20,000. That might cause more high school players to go to college.

All but six of last year’s sixth-round picks signed for $200,000 or more. Chicago Cubs catcher/first baseman Ethan Hearn had the highest bonus of the round at $950,000.

Among 1,082 players who were in a big league game last year after coming through the draft, 180 were first-round picks and 589 were selected during the first five rounds, according to the commissioner’s office.

As part of the deal with the union, teams have the right to cut the 2021 draft to as few as 20 rounds. That fits in MLB’s proposal to cut their minimum minor league affiliations from 160 to 120 in 2021, allowing each organization to drop one farm team.