NEW YORK – The term “robocalls” will take on a new meaning this season in the independent Atlantic League, where a robotic radar system will help umpires call balls and strikes.
That is just one of a far-ranging variety of experiments the Atlantic League is rolling out this year as part of its new three-year partnership with announced on Friday.
Other changes that will be monitored and tested include:
—No mound visits permitted by players or coaches other than for pitching changes or medical issues.
—Pitchers must face a minimum of three batters or reach the end of an inning before they exit the game, unless the pitcher becomes injured.
—Increase size of first, second and third base from 15 inches square to 18 inches square.
—No more infield shifts. Two infielders are required to be on each side of second base when a pitch is released (if not, the ball is dead and the umpire shall call a ball).
—Time between innings and pitching changes reduced from 2:05 to 1:45.
—Distance from pitching rubber to home plate extended by 24 inches, in the second half of the season only, with no change to mound height or slope.
“This first group of experimental changes is designed to create more balls in play, defensive action, baserunning, and improve player safety,” said Morgan Sword, MLB’s senior vice president of league economics and operations. “We look forward to seeing them in action in the Atlantic League.”
Entering its 22nd season, the Atlantic League is an eight-team independent league with franchises in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina and Texas.
“Players sign in the Atlantic League for the Major League Baseball showcase opportunity it offers,” said Rick White, Atlantic League president. “We are excited to see that showcase grow exponentially, while working with MLB on initiatives critical to the future of the game.”
–Field Level Media