Fans who follow the Major League Baseball Draft won't notice it right away, but there are quite a few changes in the amateur draft this year.

The first change is a decrease in the number of rounds.  Up until this year there were fifty.  Now that number has been cut to 40.  That means roughly 300 fewer players will get drafted this year.  It also means the number of undrafted free agents will rise.

The second change is a change in the deadline that teams have to sign their draft picks.  In the past the deadline was in August.  Now it's just after the All-Star Break.  College coaches are applauding the move.  With college rosters frozen at 35, if a team loses a player in August, whether he be a roster draftee or a signee, it was difficult to make adjustments.  Now, at least coaches can make up for the lost players.

The third change is much more complicated.

In the last few years, elite players with elite agents had taken signing bonuses for the elite players to a whole new level.  And, draft eligible players with college eligibilty remaining were doing their best to hold teams hostage for money far and above the estimated value of that particular pick.

Now teams will have a budget.  And, there will be penalties for those who exceed that budget.

Because of the new rules, you'll probably see more players returning to school.  The 30th round draft pick will rarely be getting 10th round money.  And, that will make everyone happy....except those draft picks.