Tag Archives: MLB

Atlantic League, American Association and Frontier League All Form Partnership with MLB

The top three independent leagues are now partner leagues with Major League Baseball.

Earlier this week, the Atlantic League announced their further partnership with the MLB.

ALPB Named First MLB Partner League

September 23, 2020 – Major League Baseball (MLB) announced today that it has named the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) its first “Partner League.”  As a Partner League, ALPB will meet regularly with MLB to discuss joint marketing and promotional opportunities, including the leagues’ shared goal of providing baseball to communities throughout the United States.  This designation expands the current agreement between the leagues, which permits MLB to test experimental playing rules and equipment during Atlantic League games.  The existing agreement has also been extended through the 2023 season. During the 2019 season, MLB and ALPB partnered to successfully test the Automated Ball-Strike System (ABS), which used radar tracking technology to assist home plate umpires in calling balls and strikes.  In addition, the Atlantic League tested rules limiting defensive shifting, mound visits, shortening inning breaks, and larger bases. “We are excited to extend our relationship with the Atlantic League, which provides us a unique means to push the sport forward,” said Morgan Sword, MLB’s Executive Vice President, Baseball Economics & Operations. “The Atlantic League clubs and players have been great partners to us as we jointly test ways to make our game even more interesting and engaging to fans.”  “The Atlantic League is inspired by the evolution of its relationship with Major League Baseball and thrilled to be named their first Partner League,” said ALPB President Rick White. “We value MLB’s confidence in ALPB and look forward to advancing our sport together.”  

Today, the American Association and Frontier League followed with announcements of their own.

American Association, Frontier League Designated as Partner Leagues of MLB

September 24, 2020 – Major League Baseball (MLB) announced today that it has named both the American Association and the Frontier League as “Partner Leagues” of MLB. The American Association and the Frontier League join the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB), which was designated a Partner League earlier this week.

As Partner Leagues, the Frontier League and the American Association will collaborate with MLB on initiatives to provide organized baseball to communities throughout the United States and Canada.

Morgan Sword, MLB’s Executive Vice President, Baseball Economics & Operations, said: “We welcome the American Association and Frontier Leagues as Partner Leagues, and look forward to working with them toward our shared goal of expanding the geographic reach of baseball.”

“We look forward to our partnership with MLB incorporating the American Association into the MLB family. To grow America’s Pastime, it’s critical to bring all stakeholders in professional baseball to the table,” said American Association Commissioner Joshua Schaub. “We believe this association with Major League Baseball will culminate in a comprehensive agreement that will grow baseball and shine an even brighter light on the American Association. The American Association has already established itself as a premier professional league in North America, this partnership will only enhance the American Association’s stature among the professional baseball world.”

Frontier League Commissioner Bill Lee says, “The Frontier League is honored to become a Partner League with Major League Baseball. This partnership will be beneficial in growing our great game of Baseball in all of our United States and Canadian markets. Our teams and fans will all be excited to see the League grow in years to come. The Frontier League began in 1993, to have a relationship with Major League Baseball, is one of the greatest moments in League history.”

This could lead to a major restructuring of professional baseball across America as well as Canada.

MLB Trade Rumors and The Athletic’s Evan Drellich reported that Minor league team owners who spoke with Drellich expressed trepidation that such partnerships could be used as leverage by MLB in ongoing talks with MiLB about a new Professional Baseball Agreement between the two parties.

It’s also possible that some clubs that are cut in the inevitable, broad-reaching contraction of the lower-level minor leagues could land in the Atlantic League or other newly appointed “partner leagues,” per Drellich. A timeline on additional agreements with the American Association, Frontier League or other indie circuits isn’t clear, but the PBA between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball expires next week.

MLB, Atlantic League Announce Additional Rule Changes for Second Half

At the beginning of the season, Indy Ball Island reported about the partnership between the MLB and the Atlantic League. This partnership included experimental rules that the MLB wanted to try, but didn’t want to implement in their own minor league system.

Now, they have announced additional rule changes for the second half of the season, starting tomorrow (July 12th).

MLB-Rules-Graphic-ALPB

Four new initiatives to debut in Atlantic League games beginning Friday, July 12
(Lancaster, Pa., July 11, 2019) – Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) announced today four additional experimental playing rules that will be in place during the second half of the 2019 Atlantic League Championship Season. The list of changes is as follows:

  • Pitcher is required to step off the rubber in order to attempt a pickoff
  • One (1) foul bunt is permitted with two strikes before a strikeout is called
  • Batters may “steal” first base on any pitch not caught in flight (the batter can be thrown out if he attempts to run)
  • “Check swing” rule made more batter-friendly

These new experimental playing rules will be used along with the current rules and equipment changes that were put in place at the start of the 2019 season. These include:

  • Home plate umpire assisted by radar tracking system and an MLB-defined strike zone
  • No mound visits permitted by players or coaches other than pitching changes and medical visits
  • Pitchers must face a minimum of three batters or reach the end of an inning before they can exit the game, unless the pitcher becomes injured
  • Increase size of bases from 15 inches square to 18 inches square
  • Time between innings and pitching changes reduced from 2:05 to 1:45

MLB will analyze the effects of these changes before deciding on potential additional modifications for the 2020 ALPB Championship Season.

The experimental playing rule and equipment changes are part of a new three-year agreement between MLB and ALPB. The agreement covers the transfer of players from ALPB to MLB and enhances MLB’s scouting coverage of ALPB games. MLB will continue to provide statistical and radar tracking data from ALPB games to MLB Clubs.

“We have seen a tremendous amount of interest in these initiatives from our players, coaches and fans throughout the first half of the season,” said Rick White, ALPB President. “We look forward to working further with Major League Baseball and observing these additional rule changes in action throughout the remainder of the year.”

About the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) 

With eight teams in the Mid-Atlantic and Texas, the ALPB is a leader in baseball innovation and a player gateway to Major League Baseball. Through its exclusive partnership with MLB, the Atlantic League tests Major League Baseball rules and equipment initiatives. The Atlantic League has sent over 900 players to MLB organizations while drawing more than 40 million fans to its affordable, family-friendly ballparks throughout its 22-year history.

For more information, please visit www.AtlanticLeague.com.