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Baseball draft goes prime-time on MLB Network

April 28, 2009 | 11:01 am

This could be nirvana for baseball junkies. The baseball draft, long conducted on a conference call and away from the eyes and ears of fans, will be televised live on the new MLB Network in June.

The first three rounds, anyway. The rest of the 50 rounds will be conducted by conference call, on the two days after the televised show.

The first three rounds could hold the key to the Angels' future, to revitalizing a once-dominant minor league system now ranked by Baseball America  25th among the 30 clubs. The Angels are scheduled to make five of the first 48 draft selections, all as compensation for losing free agents Francisco Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Jon Garland. They'll have seven picks in the first three rounds.

The Dodgers forfeited their top pick as compensation for signing Orlando Hudson. They'll make their first selections at No. 36, a compensation pick for losing Derek Lowe, and at No. 56. They'll have five picks in the first three rounds.

The Nationals have the first pick in the draft, and they're widely expected to select San Diego State pitcher and uber-phenom Stephen Strasburg. That will likely lead to a two-month staredown between the Nationals and Scott Boras, the agent for Strasburg, in advance of the Aug. 15 signing deadline, as the Nationals explain why $5 million to $10 million is a more appropriate signing bonus than the reported $50 million Boras is said to seek.

-- Bill Shaikin