Tag Archives: American Association

Frontier League and American Association Implement Pitch Clock for 2023 Season

The pitch clock, which has been in place in the Atlantic League for many years as well as making its way to affiliated minor leagues, has arrived in the Frontier League and the American Association.

According to an article in the Sports Business Journal, the pitch clock seems to be doing what it is intended to do at the minor league level. “MLB data… showed that in its first year in use across MiLB, the pitch clock has ‘reduced the average game time from 3 hours 4 minutes in 2021 to 2:36 in 2022.'”

As someone who has watched countless independent baseball games in the past 20 years, it is painfully obvious that the overall game times have increased. I saw more 4+ hour games last season than I ever have in the past.

Pitch clocks are being introduced to get rid of downtime while not drastically changing the game as a whole.

As a fan who watches games with and without a pitch clock, I do believe it is accomplishing this task.

Even those who were against a pitch clock at first are coming around when they see it in action. At the end of the 2021 season, The Ringer reported:

MLB players have opposed the pitch clock in the past, but the rapid pace of play in Low-A won over doubters such as another former major leaguer and recent addition to the MLB C-suite, senior vice president of on-field operations Raúl Ibañez, who calls the stricter pitch clock the most exciting of the 2021 experiments. “I was not just surprised, but blown away by the pace, the quality of play, how crisp and fluid the game flowed, and not just the action that was involved in the game, but the frequency of action,” Ibañez says. “You had to keep your eyes focused on the game. It felt like a baseball game just with a really great tempo and rhythm to it. It felt like the game that I grew up watching in the 1980s.”

The Ringer

The Frontier League and American Association also seem to think this is going to be a good move.

Official Frontier League Press Release:

The Frontier League announced on Friday they will be adding a Pitch Clock in all ballparks for the 2023 season. The clock, which will limit the time pitchers and hitters take between pitches, is designed to increase the action and reduce the down time in Frontier League games. 

The new rules will require pitchers to wait no longer than 14 seconds between pitches when there are no runners on base.  If there are runners on base, they will have 18 seconds to deliver the ball to home plate.  Batters must be in the box and ready to hit at the 9 second mark.  Violation of these time parameters can result in a called strike or ball depending on the offender. 

The rule changes also include limits on the number of disengagements (pick-off attempts, stepping off the pitching rubber, etc.) a pitcher can make per at-bat.  Once a runner is on base, the pitcher is allowed two disengagements.  If the pitcher makes a third pick-off attempt, for example, and does not pick-off the runner, a balk will be called, and the baserunner(s) will advance one base. 

“The League Directors are committed to offering the best possible entertainment to Frontier League fans, and we believe the addition of a pitch clock will help achieve this goal”, stated Frontier League President Eric Krupa. “These two changes will increase the pace of Frontier League games and provide our fans a more enjoyable experience when they come out to our ballparks or watch our games on FloSports.” 

There will be a grace period to start the Frontier League season, with warnings issued but no penalties enforced.  The automatic ball, strike, or balk will be fully enforced beginning with games on Tuesday, May 30. 

“I am excited to see the use of the pitch clock in our league,” commented Schaumburg field manager and former Frontier League pitcher Jamie Bennett.  “Deep down I am a baseball traditionalist, but this is one of those things that I believe will have a positive impact on our league and the fan experience.  It will keep the game moving and prevent unnecessary delays without really much of a rule change.” 

Over the years, the Frontier League has adopted other rules that mirror what MLB has implemented in affiliated baseball to improve the pace of games.  Previous changes included the adoption of rules to require a batter to keep one foot in the batter’s box and limits on the number of mound visits each team was allowed during games. 

The Frontier League will kick off the 2023 season on Thursday May 11th.  The League is the largest and longest tenured MLB Partner League, featuring 16 teams stretching from St. Louis to Quebec City, Canada. 

Official American Association Press Release:

MOORHEAD, MINN. – The Board of Directors of the American Association has voted to institute pitch clocks as part of an effort to address pace of play. The change is effective for the 2023 season.

The American Association pitch clocks will follow the same rules being instituted in Major League Baseball in 2023. Those rules include:

  • Pitchers will have 15 seconds to deliver a pitch with the bases empty.
  • Pitchers will have 20 seconds to deliver a pitch with runners on base.
  • The pitcher must begin his motion before the pitch clock expires or be charged with an automatic ball.
  • Batters must be prepared to receive a pitch in the batter’s box with at least eight seconds remaining. Batters who violate the pitch clock will be charged with an automatic strike.
  • There shall be a 30-second timer between batters.
  • Pitchers will be allowed to step off the rubber or attempt a pick-off move twice per batter. If a third attempt to pick-off a runner is unsuccessful, the runner automatically advances one base.
  • The step-off/pick-off limit resets if a runner or runners advance during the plate appearance.

In 2022, the American Association average game time reached three hours and eleven minutes (3:11) and has been on an upward trajectory for over a decade. Pitch clocks were utilized on a trial-basis throughout Minor League Baseball in 2022, which resulted in an average savings of 26 minutes per game.

“We believe a move to pitch clocks was a logical evolution based on the data gathered in affiliated baseball. We further believe this will return the game to what it once was when it became America’s pastime,” said American Association Commissioner Joshua Schaub. “As evidenced by the increased pace of play and little to no effect on on-field play, the rousing success in Minor League Baseball can be duplicated in the American Association. The fan experience is first and foremost on our minds at all times and our clubs are excited to begin instituting these new timers in their ballparks to provide the best fan experience.”

Each ballpark will be equipped with three Daktronics pitch clocks. Two will be located behind home plate. The third clock will be located in the outfield. The exact outfield installation location will be determined by each club.

The American Association is the premier MLB Partner League in North America. The 12-team circuit will open the 2023 season on May 11. For more information on the American Association, please visit www.aabaseball.com or our social media channels.

Indy Ball Island will provide updates and reactions as information and data become available during the 2023 season.

2022 Season Wrap-Up and a Look Ahead

The 2022 MLB World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Houston Astros kicks off tonight, officially starting the beginning to the end of the 2022 baseball season.

Additionally, the MLB partner leagues and other independent leagues have all wrapped up their seasons and are looking ahead to what the 2023 season will bring.

Here’s a look at your 2022 season champions and some news on what you can look forward to in 2023.

2022 Season Champions:

MLB Partner Leagues

Atlantic League – The Lancaster Barnstormers captured their third Atlantic League championship with a series sweep over the High Point Rockers.
Lancaster Barnstormers Official Press Release

American Association – The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks walked off on the Milwaukee Milkmen in the bottom of the 10th inning in game five of the Miles Wolff Cup Finals to win the 2022 American Association Championship.
American Association Official Press Release

Frontier League –  The Quebec Capitales became the first team to defeat the Schaumburg Boomers in a playoff series to capture the Frontier League Championship in four games. 
Frontier League Official Press Release

Pioneer League – The GJ Rockies win their first PBL Championship in 41 years with a two-game sweep over defending champions the Missoula Paddleheads.
Pioneer League Official Press Release

MLB Draft League – The WV Black Bears win the inaugural MLB Draft League Championship. (While the first half of the season featured draft eligible prospects, the second half belonged to professional players who have exhausted their amateur eligibility.)
MLB Draft League Official Press Release

Other Independent Leagues

United Shore Pro Baseball League – The Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers rallied from four runs down late to defeat the Utica Unicorns in the USPBL Championship Game.
United Shore Pro Baseball League Official Press Release

Pecos League – The Roswell Invaders won their fourth Pecos League championship, their first in seven years, after defeating the defending champions the Tucson Saguaros.

Empire League – The Tupper Lake Riverpigs win their first Empire League Championship.
Empire League Official Press Release

Mavericks League – The Salem Senators defeated the Portland Mavericks to win the Mavericks League Championship.
Mavericks League Official Website

Yinzer Baseball Confederacy – In its third season of play, the Yinzer League (ran by Black Sox Pro Baseball) continued to be a feeder league for many players. Throughout the summer, players from the Yinzer League were able to sign contracts and play in various MLB Partner Leagues.

2023 News

Atlantic League

Nashville Developer Acquires Lexington Legends and Wild Health Field
Nathan and Keri Lyons have acquired the Lexington Legends of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) along with Wild Health Field and its real estate.
Read more HERE (Atlantic League).

York Revolution Announce Rick Forney as New Manager
Forney, a native of Frederick, Maryland, spent the last 17 seasons managing the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the American Association, compiling a record of 887-753 with 13 winning seasons, 10 playoff appearances and three league championships in 2012, 2016 and 2017. He was also named American Association Manager of the Year in 2011 and 2020.
Read more HERE (York Dispatch).

Atlantic League Breaks Ground in Hagerstown
A ground breaking ceremony was held in Hagerstown which is set to host a new Atlantic League team in 2024.
Read more HERE (Herald-Mail Media).

Frontier League

Crushers Name Jared Lemieux Manager
Lemieux spent the past 2 seasons coaching with the New Jersey Jackals, and has been involved in professional baseball, either playing or coaching since 2006.
Read more HERE (Frontier League).

Florence Names Chad Rhodes Manager
This marks Rhoades’ third stint with Florence, having spent his two previous stops with Florence as the team’s pitching coach.
Read more HERE (Frontier League).

Windy City Names MLB All-Star Richie Sexson Manager
This will be the first professional managerial position for Sexson, who has spent much of the last decade as director of baseball at Summit High School in Bend, Oregon. He played for 12 seasons in the Major Leagues from 1997-2008.  
Read more HERE (Frontier League).

2023 Schedule Announced
The Frontier League, a MLB Professional Partner League, unveiled the schedule for its 30th season of play.  The 2023 regular season will begin on Thursday, May 11 and run through Sunday, September 3.
Read more HERE (Frontier League).

Pioneer League

Stu Pederson Named Second Ever Manager of Range Riders
Pederson served as an assistant coach for the Range Riders this past season, helping guide the team to a successful second half, including a 17-12 record at home and a five-game home win streak to finish off the season.
Read more HERE (Our Sports Central).

2023 Missoula PaddleHeads Coaching Staff Announced
 Manager, Michael Schlact is returning to the Garden City after having the highest winning percentage in all of professional baseball each of the past two seasons. The PaddleHeads have re-signed 2022 hitting coach, Jeff Lyle who played an integral role in the team’s success in 2022. New to the coaching staff, but not to the PaddleHeads is the new 2023 assistant coach Brandon Riley. Riley has been a leader in the clubhouse each of his past two playing seasons in Missoula.
Read more HERE (Our Sports Central).

MLB Draft League

2023 Format Announced
First half (June 1-July 4): For Amateur/Draft-eligible players from the Divisions I-III, NAIA, junior college and high school (graduating seniors) levels. 30 games per team.
Second half (July 7-Sept. 2): For professional players who have exhausted their amateur eligibility. Players receive housing, meal money, travel and weekly compensation. 50 games per team.

See the MLB Draft League Official Site HERE.

2023 Schedule Announced
The halves will be uneven with 30 scheduled games per team in the first half and 50 scheduled games per team in the second half.
See the Draft League schedule HERE (MLB Draft League).

United Shore Pro Baseball League

2023 Schedule Announced
The 70-game schedule will run from May 19 through September 9 at Jimmy John’s Field in historic downtown Utica, Mich.
See the USPBL schedule HERE (USPBL).

Pecos League

The Pecos League Announced two new teams for the 2023 season
The Marysville Drakes in California (more info HERE) and the Blackwell FlyCatchers in Oklahoma (more info HERE).

Empire League

The Empire League Reveals New Team
 The Empire Baseball League has revealed the team name for the new Malone, New York team to be the Border Hounds.
More info HERE (Empire League).

Black Sox Pro Baseball

The Black Sox Pro Baseball League will be again hosting off-season workouts, a competition camp in Florida, and continuing with their spring training barnstorming tour against the MLB Partner Leagues.
More info HERE (Black Sox Pro Baseball).