Tag Archives: MLB

Atlantic League Ends Some Experimental Rules

Over the last few years, the Atlantic League has been a testing ground for Major League Baseball and some of their experimental rules.

It appears as though some of those are ending, while others are here to stay.

ATLANTIC LEAGUE RESTORES 60’6” PITCHING RUBBER DISTANCE

Successful Automated Ball – Strike Technology Migrates to Affiliated Minor League

(January 13, 2022, New York, N.Y.) – The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) announced today that it will return the distance of the pitching rubber to its conventional 60’6” and will resume having home plate umpires call balls and strikes for the 2022 ALPB Championship Season.  

The Atlantic League has used the Automated Ball-Strike (ABS) system since the second half of its 2019 season and throughout the 2021 campaign as part of its innovative Test Rules and Equipment Partnership with Major League Baseball (MLB). Following the ALPB experiment and assessment, ABS is moving to an MLB affiliated league.  

Atlantic League pitching rubber distances were moved back one foot to 61’6” for the second half of the 2021 season as part of the MLB test rules partnership. The test proved inconclusive, so both parties agreed to restore the pitching rubber distance to its traditional length of 60’6” for the upcoming ALPB season.  

“As we enter 2022, we reaffirm to players and fans that ball-strike calls, and the distance of the pitching rubber, will return to accepted norms,” said Atlantic League President Rick White. “We retain several past MLB test features, such as 17” bases, extra innings tiebreaker and anti-shift rules, among others. The test rules and equipment are transitional by definition: Some elements remain, others are tweaked, and still others are abandoned. That’s why MLB and the ALPB conduct the tests.” 

The Atlantic League and MLB will announce 2022 test rules later this spring. “We are honored to pioneer the future of the game with Major League Baseball,” said White. “We’re proud that many tests today will find their way to the big leagues in the future. We will continue to closely corroborate on tests with MLB.” The experimental playing rule and equipment changes are part of a multi-year agreement between MLB and ALPB. 

About the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) 

With teams throughout the Mid-Atlantic, 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 1,000 players to MLB organizations while drawing more than 44 million fans to its affordable, family-friendly ballparks throughout its 24-year history. For more information, please visit www.AtlanticLeague.com

2021 The Summer of Signings

Major League Baseball organizations are signing independent players at an alarming rate this summer.

Baseball America has reported that 150 players have been signed from the MLB Partner Leagues (Atlantic League, American Association, Frontier League, and Pioneer League) as of their article on June 25th.

With the reduction in minor league affiliated teams, it makes sense for the MLB Partner Leagues to act as true feeder leagues to major league organizations. On top of that, the summer off for most players last year also has to be attributing to the injury-riddled rosters.

And while the number of contracts purchased gives indy ball players hope, it is starting to affect the level of play (especially pitching) for those still within the partner leagues.

If you’ve watched any game from a Partner League this season, you may have noticed that the level of play is down from years past. That was evident in the beginning of the season, but even more so now that their rosters have all been poached for talent to fill spots. Specifically, there is a huge drop in the level of pitching. Teams are really just trying to find arms to fill spots and eat up innings. Throwing strikes with some sort of velocity is a plus, but even that is getting harder and harder to find.

So if the major league organizations find players in the partner leagues, where do the partner leagues go to fill their depleted rosters?

Of course, the normal college grads are always an option but…

There are various true independent leagues running around the country that each have a goal to get players the game reps they need to be seen and hopefully move up to a partner league.

Right now, the Yinzer League (based in the Frontier League Washington Wildthing’s ballpark in Pennsylvania) are playing games every day. This league, ran by Joe Torre and the Black Sox (you may be familiar with them if you’re a reader of this site), has worked hard to get guys seen and signed this summer. Players have gone to each partner league in the month that they have been playing.

The USPBL (which also runs out of a single stadium in Utica, MI) is another option for players who need a spot to play.

Likewise, the Pecos League in the southwest and the Empire League in the northeast are giving players opportunities to play, gain stats, and hopefully move up to a team that is looking for a player who is already game ready.

If you’re sitting at home but want to get back in the game… there ARE spots available. A LOT of spots. It may not be easy finding them. It may be a true grind once you get there. But teams are looking.