Connect with us


MLB to Test Out New Experimental Rules in Minors



mlb news

New experimental rules will be coming to the minor leagues starting this season — even including limited steals and shifts.

MLB made the announcement Thursday, clarifying that some rules will only apply to certain levels of the minors.

  • Larger Bases (AAA)

Second and third bases will increase from 15 to 18 inches. The goal here is to reduce player collisions. The statement also notes the shortened distance between bases could also positively impact the number of stolen bases, and the amount of times a runner gets on base by way of groundballs and bunts.


  • Limit on Shifts (Double-A)

This rule requires a minimum of four players on the infield and is the first step we have seen be taken to ban, or at least put a limit, on the loved or hated shift. The release said this rule would be put in place to increase batting average, which has slumped due to the coverage provided from the shift. Additionally, the statement said based on the results of the first half of the season with this experimental rule in place, MLB may require two players to be on each side of second base for the second half of the season.


  • “Step Off” Rule (High-A)

This rule is being dubbed the “step off” rule and will be seen in High-A ball. It states before a pitcher can attempt to pick off a runner at any base, they must step off of the rubber. A balk will be the result if a pitcher fails to follow that rule. A positive increase in stolen bases is also the goal here.


  • Limited Pick-Offs (All Low-A)

This rule will put a limit of two pickoffs and “step offs” a pitcher can take during a plate appearance. A third attempt can be made, but if the player safely makes it back to the base, that will then result in a balk on the pitcher. And, again, depending on how this rule plays out, it may even limit pitchers to just one single pickoff or “step off” per plate appearance.


  • Automatic Strike Zone (Low-A Southeast)

This rule expands testing of the automatic ball-strike zone, or ABS. This enforces a consistent strike zone and will assist home plate umpires in their calls.


  • Pitch Clock (Low A West)

This rule implements further restrictions than the clock we already see in Double-A and Triple-A. This will limit time between pitches, inning breaks, and pitching changes. There will be three on-field timers — one in the outfield, and two behind the home plate, between the dugouts. 

While some of these experimental rules are raising eyebrows from fans, these are exactly what they are — experimental. These could potentially be something we see implemented in the major leagues in the future, but it is still likely most of them will live and die in the minors.