Triple-A Will Use Challenge ABS System Exclusively In Second Half


Image credit: (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The automated ball-strike system (ABS) will change at the start of the second half of the Triple-A season, Baseball America has learned.

All games will use the challenge system going forward. Pitchers, catcher or batters can still challenge calls, but the ball/strike calls themselves will be made by the umpire. In the first half of the season, the first three games of each series had the games completely called by the “roboumps.” The ABS system would call balls and strikes, with the home plate umpire relaying the call after hearing it through an earpiece. The final three games (Friday/Saturday/Sunday) of each series used the challenge system.

There is one more change. In the International League, teams will now only have two challenges per game. Any successful challenge does not count, so effectively this means they will only have two unsuccessful challenges per game. The Pacific Coast League will continue to have three unsuccessful challenges per team per game.

Major League Baseball has used the minor leagues as its place to experiment with rules changes that may eventually be adopted for MLB. The pitch clock, bigger bases and pickoff rules are all examples of rules changes first used and adjusted in the minors before coming to the major leagues.

The dumping of the full-ABS system for the challenge system is further evidence of what has long been suspected. If “roboumps” come to the major leagues, it will more likely be with a challenge system than a full automated ball-strike system. The challenge system is viewed as allowing the most egregious calls to be reversed, while still allowing catchers to continue to include receiving and pitch presentation as a key aspect of their work behind the plate. It also helps ensure that umpires don’t lose the practice of calling pitches themselves.

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