Central Pennsylvania’s two Atlantic League baseball teams, the Lancaster Barnstormers and the York Revolution, announced Friday the experimental playing rules and equipment that will be in place during the upcoming season.
The new changes that will be put in place in the Atlantic League this season include:
- The home plate umpire will be assisted in calling balls and strikes by a TrackMan radar tracking system
- No mound visits permitted for 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)
- The size of first, second and third base will be increased from 15 inches square to 18 inches square
- Two infielders are now 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). This rule eliminates the possibility of shifting multiple infielders to one side of the field to combat dead-pull hitters
- Time between innings and pitching changes will reduced from 2:05 to 1:45
- The distance from the pitching rubber to home plate extended 24 inches, in the second half of the season only; with no change to mound height or slope
Major League Baseball will measure the effects of these rules changes to help decide on additional modifications during the Atlantic League All-Star Break and in future seasons, the teams said in their announcements.
“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, League Economics & Operations. “We look forward to seeing them in action in the Atlantic League.”
The experimental playing rule and equipment changes are part of a new three-year agreement between Major League Baseball and the Atlantic League. The agreement covers the transfer of players from the Atlantic League to the Majors and enhances Major League Baseball's scouting coverage of Atlantic League games. Major League Baseball will provide statistical and radar tracking data from Atlantic League games to its clubs.
“Players sign in the Atlantic League for the Major League Baseball showcase opportunity it offers,” said Atlantic League president Rick White. “We are excited to see that showcase grow exponentially, while working with MLB on initiatives critical to the future of the game.”