We’ve already covered the much-discussed rules changes at the MLB level relating to pace of play. That is certainly the most pertinent recent development in the rules arena, which has emerged as a point of no little controversy between the league and player’s union.
Today, though, the minor-league rule book received some changes of its own, as MLB.com’s Matt Kelly was among those to report, with some notable differences. While these regulations obviously won’t be seen in major-league games, they presumably could be considered for the game’s highest level in the future.
Mound visits will now be limited in the minors, much as is set to occur at the MLB level. The already-existing pitch clocks in the upper minors will be sped up. That, perhaps, is the next frontier for the majors, though the clock is not slated to be implemented there in 2018.
What has raised the most eyebrows, surely, is a rather notable change in extra innings. In a measure that’s sure both to shorten contests and engender consternation among purists, teams will start each inning with a baserunner on second from the tenth frame on. (The runner will be the player that occupies the spot in the order prior to the one that’s due to lead off the inning.) This procedure was utilized with less-than-enthusiastic reviews at the most recent World Baseball Classic.
Clearly, there’s more justification for utilizing this sort of procedure in the minors, where development is still the primary purpose. And it’s far from clear whether there’s any real inclination to pursue such a game-altering approach in the majors. Still, it’s quite a modification and one that’s sure to impact minor-league games across the country in the coming season.