NEW YORK – They sat anxiously by their phones, computers and TVs, hoping to hear their names called by big league teams.
Instead, the waiting continues for hundreds of young baseball players.
Major League Baseball's amateur draft wrapped up Thursday night, shaved to only five rounds over two days from the usual 40 rounds over three because of the coronavirus pandemic — a move that figures to save teams about $30 million. So, instead of more than 1,200 players celebrating the start of their professional careers, only 160 can do so right now.
For the rest, they must carefully weigh their options. And, so do teams.
“In terms of the post-draft signings, it’s going to be different,” said David Stearns, the Milwaukee Brewers' general manager and president of baseball operations. “There are probably going to be all sorts of different mechanics in play there and market forces in play that we haven’t seen in the past.”
Major league clubs are scouring their draft boards and scouting reports while trying to identify the best of the remaining talent around the country.
“The fact we were only able to scout four college weekends and the high school kids, many of whom we didn’t see in their spring seasons, it’s difficult,” said Paul Toboni, the Boston Red Sox director of amateur scouting. “There’s a lot more uncertainty than there would be in a normal spring."
Instead of the typical free-for-all immediately after the draft when teams race to add undrafted players to fill out their minor league squads, the conclusion of this year's event included a few important caveats.