Experimental Minor League Baseball Rules That Could Make It To MLB

Experimental Minor League Baseball Rules That Could Make It To MLB

Shutterstock

Minor League Baseball (MiLB) is more than just a breeding ground for future Major League talent, it’s also a laboratory for rule-change experiments.

Ever in an effort to speed up the game and make it more appealing to today’s ADD audiences, don’t be surprised if you see any of these MiLB rules make their way to the Big Leagues someday soon.

Three-Batter Minimum

Frequent pitching changes often bring the pace of a baseball game to a crawl. A new MiLB rule aims to change that by forcing pitchers to face at least three batters (or get to the end of the inning) before they can be pulled from the game.

Mercifully, the rule doesn’t apply to pitchers that get injured on the mound.

Speeding Up Bonus Baseball

Beginning in 2018, all MiLB entering extra innings begin with a runner on second base. The rule’s intent is to speed up the conclusion to games tied after nine innings, similar to how the NFL and NHL made alterations to their overtime rules.

The runner put on base is the last batter of the previous inning, with some special exceptions made if that player was the pitcher.

Limiting Mound Visits

Depending on the level of minor league ball, teams can only visit their pitcher between five and nine times per game. This includes not only visits from managers, but also from other position players.

If the team violates this rule, they must make an immediate pitching change as a penalty. Currently, in Major League Baseball, teams are allowed one visit per inning per pitcher.

Bigger Bases

In MiLB’s Atlantic League, the size of first, second, and third base was increased from 15 to 18 square inches.

In theory, the idea is to encourage offense by making bases a little bit of an easier target to reach for base stealers. In reality, it might also mean far more ground balls striking bases and taking errant bounces.

RoboUmp

The umpire might be the latest occupation to be replaced by robots, as home plate umps will begin using a TrackMan radar system to call balls and strikes during the 2019 Atlantic League season.

TrackMan uses Doppler radar to detect whether a pitch was a ball or strike, which it then communicates to the home plate umpire via an earpiece. The umpire has the ability to override the computer’s call, such as on check swings or when a ball bounces first before entering the strike zone.