The partnership between the Atlantic League and Major League Baseball is yielding four additional experimental playing rules that will be implemented in the Atlantic League’s second half. The list of changes is as follows:
- Pitcher is required to step off the rubber in order to attempt a pickoff
- One (1) foul bunt is permitted with two strikes before a strikeout is called
- Batters may “steal” first base on any pitch not caught in flight (the batter can be thrown out if he attempts to run)
- “Check swing” rule made more batter-friendly
These new experimental playing rules will be used along with the current rules and equipment changes that were put in place at the start of the 2019 season. These include:
- Home plate umpire assisted by radar tracking system and an MLB-defined strike zone
- No mound visits permitted by players or coaches other than pitching changes and medical visits
- Pitchers must face a minimum of three batters or reach the end of an inning before they can exit the game, unless the pitcher becomes injured
- Increase size of bases from 15 inches square to 18 inches square
- Time between innings and pitching changes reduced from 2:05 to 1:45
MLB will analyze the effects of these changes before deciding on potential additional modifications for the 2020 Atlantic League Championship Season.
The experimental playing rule and equipment changes are part of a new three-year agreement between MLB and the Atlantic League. The agreement covers the transfer of players from the Atlantic League to MLB and enhances MLB’s scouting coverage of Atlantic League games. MLB will continue to provide statistical and radar tracking data from Atlantic League games to MLB Clubs.
“We have seen a tremendous amount of interest in these initiatives from our players, coaches and fans throughout the first half of the season,” said Rick White, Atlantic League President. “We look forward to working further with Major League Baseball and observing these additional rule changes in action throughout the remainder of the year.”
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