NEW YORK - Major League Baseball and the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball jointly announced yesterday radical changes in the way the games will be played in the Atlantic League in 2019.
The Somerset Patriots, who play their home games at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, are one of eight teams in the ALPB that will be affected by the changes, including shorter times between innings and pitching changes, longer distance from the pitcher's mound to home plate and increasing the size of 1st, 2nd and third bases.
The Patriots' home opener is April 26th.
The experimental playing rules and equipment that will be in place during the 2019 Atlantic League include:
§ Home plate umpire assisted in calling balls and strikes by a TrackMan radar tracking system;
§ 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 1st, 2nd and 3rd base from 15 inches square to 18 inches square;
§ Require two infielders 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 24 inches, in the second half of the season only; with no change to mound height or slope.
MLB will analyze the effects of these changes before deciding on potential additional modifications during the 2019 ALPB All-Star Break and in future seasons.
“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.”
“Players sign in the Atlantic League for the Major League Baseball showcase opportunity it offers,” said Rick White, ALPB President. “We are excited to see that showcase grow exponentially, while working with MLB on initiatives critical to the future of the game.”
The experimental playing rule and equipment changes are part of a new three-year agreement between MLB and ALPB. The agreement covers the transfer of players from ALPB to MLB and enhances MLB’s scouting coverage of ALPB games. MLB will provide statistical and radar tracking data from ALPB games to MLB Clubs.