MiLB alters pace-of-play rules with big changes to extra innings

Starting in 2018 Minor League Baseball will reduce its pitch clock to 15 seconds when no runners are on base at the Double-A and Triple-A levels

Minor League Baseball initiates changes, including runner for extra innings

Minor league baseball games that go extra innings will have a different look this season - a runner will start the inning on second base at all levels.

"We believe these changes to extra innings will enhance the fans' enjoyment of the game and will become something that the fans will look forward to on nights where the game is tied late in the contest, " said Minor League Baseball President Pat O'Conner. If the game goes to extra innings, each team will get one mound visit. I'm okay with the mound visit rule and I am pro pitch clock if Major League Baseball wants to add it. Get that extra-inning rule outta here though. The runner will be the player in the lineup before the leadoff hitter in that inning, though teams will be allowed to substitute in that spot.

A rule limiting mound visits will also be in effect in the minor league as it is in the majors, The Washington Post reported.

As for saving pitchers, only a handful of position players are ever used to pitch and those are mostly in the eighth or ninth innings of blowouts, not in close extra innings games when pitchers are used up.

Visits for Short Season and Rookie-level teams are unlimited.

The number of mound visits - either by coaches or position players - will be limited based on level.

The Class A Florida State League experimented with a 15-second pitch clock in all situations the past two years, and its average time for a nine-inning game dropped from 2:41 in 2015 to 2:35 the following season before rising to 2:38 last year. In addition, the Triple-A and Double-A levels will use a 15-second pitch clock with no runners on base.

A runner who starts an extra inning at second shall be counted as reaching on an error for purposes of determining earned runs, but no errors shall be charged. Nah, not really, mostly because it nearly ensures that the first action in extra innings will be a sacrifice bunt to get that runner to third, often followed by an intentional walk to set up a double play, and bunts and intentional walks are dumb and unexciting most of the time. When the pitcher has the ball within the pitching circle, the catcher is in the catcher's box, and the batter is on the dirt circle around the plate. A ball will be issued if time expires before the pitcher begins his wind-up.

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

-Umpires have the authority to stop the pitch timer and order a reset. If he doesn't do it, the batter is awarded a ball. The rules will be fully enforced starting April 20. But if the batter fails to get in the batter's box prior to the 7-second mark, a strike will be awarded.

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