March 12, 2021 - 6:38 pm
Major League Baseball is using the minor leagues to test out several potential rules changes this season.
At the Triple-A level, which includes the Aviators, the size of the bases goes from 15-by-15 inches to 18-by-18 inches to encourage more stolen bases and increase the chances of more base runners.
Other changes include:
— Double-A: At least four players must have both feet completely in front of the outer boundary of the infield dirt.
— High-A: Pitchers must completely step off the rubber before throwing to any base, with the penalty being a balk.
— All Low-A leagues: Pitchers will be limited to two step-offs or pickoffs per plate appearance with at least one runner on base. A pitcher may step off or try a pickoff a third time in the same plate appearance, but if the runner safely returns to the base, the result is a balk.
— Low-A Southeast: MLB will expand testing of the Automatic Ball-Strike System (“ABS”) that began in the Atlantic League and Arizona Fall League to select Low-A Southeast games.
— Low-A West: On-field timers will be used to enforce time limits between pitches, inning breaks and pitching changes beyond what already is in use at Triple-A and Double-A.
“We are listening to our fans. This effort is an important step towards bringing to life rules changes aimed at creating more action and improving the pace of play,” Michael Hill, MLB senior vice president of on-field operations, said in a statement.