What has long been rumored is now true: Minor league games in the Gulf Coast, Arizona and Dominican Summer Leagues will all use international-style tiebreaker rules to eliminate lengthy extra-inning games. Once a game goes into extras, each successive inning will begin with a runner on second base.
That’s true in the 10th inning of regulation games, as well as the eighth inning of minor league doubleheaders, whose games are scheduled for just seven innings apiece. That differs from international-style tiebreaker rules, like those employed in the recent World Baseball Classic, which allow for one normal extra inning before placing runners on base. International rules also call for runners on first and second base, which almost certainly lead to the first batter bunting.
The new rules will not be used in the playoffs, but just in the regular season.
The rules implemented are as follows:
1. Each half-inning following the ninth inning (or seventh inning if part of a doubleheader) will begin with a runner on second base.
2. The runner placed on second base at the start of each half-inning shall be the player in the batting order immediately preceding that half-inning's leadoff hitter.
3. For the purposes of calculating earned runs, should the runner placed on second base score, it shall be considered an unearned run.
The rules changes were finalized last week and formally given to the farm directors over the weekend.
Additionally, the intentional walk rule that was approved for the major leagues will also be used in the minor leagues.
Pitchers at every level of pro baseball will be allowed—but not required—to intentionally walk a hitter without throwing a pitch. They can choose to throw the four pitches if their manager would like time to get a new reliever ready, but the walk can be issued with a simple signal from the dugout.
The ball will dead during the process, and it can be utilized at any time during an at-bat.