At all levels of the minors, extra innings will now start with a runner on second base.
At the Double-A and Triple-A levels, a 15-second pitch clock is being implemented when there are no runners on base.
New limits on mound visits without pitching changes also will be added, the minor league governing body said. To wit, Triple-A teams will be permitted six mound visits per game (with one additional for every extra inning); Double-A teams eight; Single-A 10; and that's that.
The rules are meant to shorten the length of extra-inning games and the number of mound visits throughout a game, keeping in mind player safety and providing more action for viewers.
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Allowable mound visits will be staggered among minor league levels.
A few weeks ago MLB announced a new set of pace-of-play rule changes, and earlier today, Minor League Baseball announced their own set of pace-of-play measures.
-For purposes of calculating earned runs under Rule 9.16, the runner who begins an inning on second base pursuant to this rule shall be deemed to be a runner who has reached second base because of a fielding error, but no error shall be charged to the opposing team or to any player. Per the new rules, he will be the player who preceded the leadoff hitter in the batting order, usually the player who made the last out or a pinch runner for that player.
Major League Baseball announced on February 19 that there will be a general limit of six mound visits per nine-inning game without a pitching change, whether by a manager, coach or player. Mound visits do not include discussions between the pitcher and positional player in-between at-bats and "do not require either the position player or the pitcher to relocate", a player visiting the mound to clean his spikes, an injury or visits to the mound after a substitution offensively. There is, however, a provision that states a capped-out catcher can ask the umpire for permission to visit the mound in cases where the two are mixed up on their signs.
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In the minor leagues, with developing pitchers on pitch counts and inning limitations, extra-inning games can tax a team's roster.
-The timer shall start when the pitcher has possession of the ball in the dirt circle surrounding the pitcher's rubber, the catcher is in the catcher's box and the batter is in the dirt circle surrounding home plate.
-If the pitcher feints a pick off or steps off the rubber with runners on base, the timer shall reset and start again immediately. If a batter is not "in the batter's box and alert to the pitcher" with seven seconds left on the clock, a strike is added to the count.
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The first 15 days of the season will be a "grace period" with the rules being strictly enforced starting April 20.