The Atlantic League will become a testing ground for new rules and tweaks for its Major League Baseball brethren.
MLB will work with the independent ALPB to modify experimental rules and equipment during a three-year deal the leagues announced on Tuesday — and it could bring some big changes.
Among the expected tweaks the Atlantic League, filled with players who have MLB experience, is expected to implement are moving the mound back and implementing robo-umps, according to Baseball America. That would reportedly include using the Trackman computerized data tracking system to call balls and strikes, as well as to provide in-depth data for every pitch, an approach that would help figure out the best approach for the long-proposed robo-ump idea.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has been closely monitoring the idea of a robot calling balls and strikes, and admitted, during a 2018 interview with The Athletic, that he had been surprised by the technology.
“I think we are much closer than we were a year ago to having the technological capability to actually call the strike zone,” Manfred said last May. “The accuracy is way up — way better than what it was a year ago. The technology continues to move … and it actually moved a little faster than I might have thought.”
Owners would have ultimate say over the idea, which has loomed over baseball for some time.
“We look forward to bringing some of the best ideas about the future of our game to life in a highly competitive environment,” Morgan Sword, MLB’s senior vice president, League Economics & Operations, said in a release.
As part of the agreement, MLB also will provide statistical services for the minor league, including radars installed at eight ALPB stadiums and will facilitate the transfer of players from the ALPB to MLB.
“The Atlantic League prides itself on innovation,” ALPB president Rick White said. Previously, the league, which includes the Long Island Ducks, has been at the forefront of changes that sped up the game. “In that spirit, our Board of Directors, led by Chairman and Founder Frank Boulton, enthusiastically and unanimously approved this forward-looking agreement.”
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