New Minor League Baseball pace of play rules for 2018 were announced today.
The procedures, which MiLB says were made in partnership with Major League Baseball, "aim to reduce the number of pitchers used in extra innings and the issues created by extra innings games", which include position players being used as pitchers and shortages of pitchers in the days following unusually long games.
At all levels of Minor League Baseball, extra innings will begin with a runner on second base. The players' union agreed not to challenge MLB's decision to institute the rule.
Those familiar with the World Baseball Classic already know where this is going - yes, each team will receive an automatic baserunner at second base to begin each half-inning starting with the 10th inning.More news: March Madness odds 2018: Wednesday First Four betting lines and trends
Mound visit limits for Triple-A (six per game), Double-A (eight per game), and Single-A (ten per game). The runner will be the player who is in the batting order position previous to the leadoff hitter for that inning.
Pitchers at the Triple A and Double A levels will have a 15 second pitch clock with no base runners and a 20 second pitch clock with base runners.
If the placed runner scores, it would be considered a unearned run.
If an umpire determines a pitcher and catcher are crossed up in signs, an extra mound visit is granted beyond the allotment.More news: Kiss From Katy Perry Made "American Idol" Contestant "Uncomfortable"
The mound-visit limitation follows the lead of Major League Baseball, which is imposing a six-visit limit (by player or coach) this year. Any runner or batter removed from the game for a substitute shall be ineligible to return to the game, as is the case in all circumstances under the Official Baseball Rules. Testing out rule changes in the Minors first will give you info about whether or not the rule changes actually shorten gametime and whether or not it drastically affects the concept of the sport.
The Class A Florida State League experimented with a 15-second pitch clock in all situations the past two years, and its average time for a nine-inning game dropped from 2:41 in 2015 to 2:35 the following season before rising to 2:38 last year.
The timer shall start when the pitcher has possession of the ball in the dirt circle surrounding the pitcher's rubber, the catcher is in the catcher's box and the batter is in the dirt circle surrounding home plate. If a batter is not "in the batter's box and alert to the pitcher" with seven seconds left on the clock, a strike is added to the count.
If the pitcher fails to begin his delivery within the allotted times, the batter will be awarded a ball.More news: Shane McMahon's Big WrestleMania 34 Announcement Revealed
The new rules will begin after the first 15 days of the season.
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