Minor League Baseball announces new rules for pace of play

Angelo Anderson
March 15, 2018

The changes that will take effect in Minor League Baseball include all extra-inning games beginning with a base runner on second. And for the stats enthusiasts, the runner on second base will be considered there based on a fielding error but no errors will be counted and it will also not count toward a pitcher's ERA.

For the pitch clock, the pitcher must begin their wind-up or motion to the plate within 15 seconds.

The first change to the Minor League Baseball rulebook is the addition of a rule that is already in place at many other levels of baseball and softball.

Mound visits by coaches and position players will be limited to six at Triple-A and eight for Double-A.

-For any extra-innings played, each club shall be entitled to one additional non-pitching change mound visit per inning.

Minor League Baseball announced several rules changes aimed at reducing the length of extra innings games and the number of mound visits.

MILB notes that the baserunner will be treated as if he reached on an error without actually awarding the defensive team an error - meaning, in the simplest terms, that he won't count toward the pitcher's ERA if he scores. The runner will be the player that precedes the leadoff hitter in the batting order or a substitute pinch runner. A mound visit is defined as anytime a manager, coach, or teammate meets the pitcher at the mound with only a few limited exceptions (such as following an injury or to clean spikes in rainy conditions). There is, however, a provision that states a capped-out catcher can ask the umpire for permission to visit the mound in cases where the two are mixed up on their signs.

The new extra-innings format will be adopted across all minor league levels.

-If the pitcher feints a pick off or steps off the rubber with runners on base, the timer shall reset and start again immediately.

-Following any event (e.g., pick-off play) that permits the batter to leave the batter's box, the timer shall start when the pitcher has possession of the ball in the dirt circle surrounding the pitcher's rubber, and the catcher is in the catcher's box.

The first 15 days of the season will be a grace period, but starting April 20 violations will be penalized with balls against pitchers and strikes against batters. It would nearly make sense, then, to give each team the option of beginning the inning with a runner on second with nobody out or a runner on third with one out.

The Tacoma Rainiers begin their season at Cheney Stadium with a five-game series against the Sacramento River Cats on April 5.

"We feel that limiting mound visits and decreasing the amount of time between itches with no runners on base will further improve the pace of play and make it a more enjoyable experience for our fans", O'Conner said.

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