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New Triple-A Baseballs Will Likely Boost Scoring In 2019

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(Photo by Mike Janes)

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Tuesday’s Triple-A national championship game was the finale for minor league baseballs at the Triple-A level.

Beginning next year, both Triple-A leagues will use baseballs made to the same specifications as Major League Baseball’s balls.

If pretty much anyone and everyone who has used both baseballs is correct, that will mean that scoring and home runs will be up in Triple-A next year. Players have long believed that the major league balls are hotter than the minor league balls.

When major leaguers rehab at a minor league park, they have the option of having major league balls subbed in for when they pitch or hit. The viewpoint that minor league balls don’t carry as far is so prevalent that there have been rehabbing major league pitchers who have opted to use the minor league balls. They felt it would help them keep the ball in the park, even though the seams and covering of the balls are not what they are used to pitching with normally.

The idea of the PCL getting a further offensive boost should be a frightening idea for pitchers. With some of the best hitters' parks in the minors thanks to plenty of altitude, the PCL averaged 5.0 runs per team per game in 2018. Five teams in the league gave up 5.5 runs or more per game.

To the eye, the new balls will still look like they are Triple-A baseballs. The International League baseballs will be signed by league president Randy Mobley and Pacific Coast League president Branch Rickey will sign the PCL balls, but other than the stamp and the signatures, they will be identical to the major league balls.

The new baseballs will also add some expense for minor league teams. The average minor league team uses between 600 and 800 dozen baseballs over the course of the season. The old balls costs roughly $50 a dozen while the new balls will cost closer to $100 a dozen. That expense is shared between the big league club and the Triple-A franchise.

SAME TEAMS, DIFFERENT TEAMS: Even though Memphis and Durham were facing off in the Triple-A Championship game for the second consecutive season, there were very few players on the field Tuesday who were at last year’s Triple-A Championship game.

Memphis had three holdovers from last year’s game—Tommy EdmanWilfredo Tovar and Kevin Herget. Durham had only twolast year’s Triple-A Championship Game MVP Kean Wong and Chih-Wei Hu.

UP AND DOWN: The Triple-A Championship game is one title game where both participating teams are guaranteed to get rings since both teams are already league champions. And both organizations will be handing out a lot of rings.

The Redbirds had 66 players come through Memphis at some point in 2018. The Bulls had a more modest 58 players shuffle on and off of the roster during the season.

Outfielder Justin Williams will actually get two rings. The starting right fielder for Memphis in the national championship game was the Bulls everyday right fielder in the first half of the season before he was traded to the Cardinals (and the Redbirds) in the trade that sent Tommy Pham to the Rays on July 31.

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