BASEBALL: AAA Parks To Use Electronic Strike Zone In 2023
The electronic strike zone will be used in all 30 Class AAA parks in 2023, sources told ESPN, seemingly another significant step toward the implementation of the technology at the big league level in the near future.
The Automatic Balls and Strikes system, commonly referred to as ABS, will be deployed in two different ways. Half of the Class AAA games will be played with all of the calls determined by an electronic strike zone, and the other half will be played with an ABS challenge system similar to that used in professional tennis.
Each team will be allowed three challenges per game, with teams retaining challenges in cases when they are proved correct. MLB's intention is to use the data and feedback from both systems, over the full slate of games, to inform future choices.
As of now, MLB has no firm date to implement its Automatic Balls and Strikes system in the big leagues. But in recent seasons, the robotic umpire has been used increasingly in the minor leagues.
There is already significant change in the season ahead, with the implementation of a pitch clock, new regulations greatly limiting the use of defensive shifts, larger bases, and a restriction on the number of times a pitcher can attempt pickoff throws. The alterations are intended to augment what MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has referred to as the "pace of action."
At the winter meetings, MLB general managers were also briefed on the ongoing efforts to shape the strike zone in a way that is more conducive for action. In the season ahead, there will be more focus on lowering the top of the strike zone -- an area in which many pitchers have contributed to the record rate of strikeouts -- and calling strikes within the 17-inch horizontal plane above home plate.