Anthony Rizzo, right, was a sixth-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2007 and played with the Portland Sea Dogs in 2010 before becoming an All-Star with the Chicago Cubs. This year, Major League Baseball’s amateur draft will be limited to five rounds. John Ewing/Staff Photographer

The cuts keep coming for professional baseball.

Major League Baseball is reducing its amateur draft from 40 rounds to five next month, according to news reports.

With 35 fewer rounds, that means 1,050 players will miss a chance to be drafted. Undrafted players can be signed, but with a signing-bonus cap of $20,000 – a figure normally reserved for late-round picks and college seniors with no place left to go.

The result will be a big decrease in the number of players who turn pro, so expect college rosters to be bursting next year – with seniors who were granted an extra year of eligibility, juniors who don’t get drafted and choose not to sign for $20,000, and incoming freshmen who won’t be lured by a big signing bonus.

The pandemic is the cause of all this. With the chances of no minor league season this year, why sign more players?

But a five-round draft is draconian. Early speculation was that the 2020 draft would be at least 10 rounds. But going to five rounds saves money, albeit not much in MLB circles. The total for slotted signing bonuses for rounds 6-10 was set around $30 million – about $1 million per team.

But owners want to save money every place they can while ballparks are shuttered.

Rounds 6-10 can brings in some prized players. The Red Sox drafted Anthony Rizzo in the sixth round in 2007. The 2008 draft yielded three catchers for Boston, all of whom reached the majors – Ryan Lavarnway (sixth round), Tim Federowicz (seventh) and Christian Vazquez (ninth). Others Red Sox picks in those rounds include Travis Shaw (ninth, 2011), Travis Lakins (sixth, 2015) and Jarren Duran (seventh, 2018).

Don’t expect the draft to return to normal after 2020. MLB’s desire to shrink its minor league presence means future drafts will never return to 40 rounds.

MLB is seeking a reduction of 40 minor league teams, dropping teams at the short-season and advanced rookie level. Those teams have roster limits of 35 – meaning there would be 1,400 fewer players in organized baseball.

MLB is not like the NFL (with its seven-round draft) or the NBA (two rounds). Baseball players don’t come out of college ready to perform at the top level. Developing baseball players is the crux of any major league organization. But MLB is reducing its role in the development game.

What does this mean for the future? While college baseball won’t be the sole “minor league” for the pros, as college football is, baseball scouts will concentrate more on college teams. With smaller drafts, MLB teams will be less likely to gamble on raw high school talent, and will look toward more-projectable college players.

Assuming independent leagues continue (or even grow with the reduction of affiliated minor league team), MLB will also look there for talent that will be cheaper to sign.

There may even be more open tryouts, looking for Cinderella stories.

The bottom line for baseball players: fewer opportunities. The bottom line for MLB owners is, right there, on the bottom line: money saved.

TO PROVE MY POINT that the ever-optimistic Portland Sea Dogs front office never calls off a game until they are absolutely sure, look at the Sea Dogs schedule on their website. They don’t postpone a game until the day it’s scheduled. In other words, Monday’s home game at 6 p.m. against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats is still on. I love it.

THE JUNE SERIES with the Erie SeaWolves coming to Portland for three games won’t happen. That’s a shame because Arnie Beyeler, who managed the Sea Dogs longer than anyone (four seasons), is in his first year of managing Erie.

“That was going to be fun,” Beyeler said from his home in Atlantic Beach, Florida (near Jacksonville). “I was looking forward to seeing everybody. (Todd) Claus was going to come up.”

Claus, also a former Sea Dogs manager and now the Red Sox co-director of international scouting, lives near Beyeler. These days, they are not assessing baseball talent, but looking for fishing spots.

Beyeler was still in Detroit’s major league spring training camp in Lakeland, Florida, in March, when everything was shut down because of the virus outbreak.

“I got to have my first spring break,” Beyeler said. “Then they closed the beaches.”

The beaches have since reopened but, alas, not the baseball fields.

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