Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball Clubs (ALPB) have delayed the introduction of new technology into the latter’s ballparks, part of a scheme to test experimental playing rules and equipment initiatives.

In February, MLB said it would install radar tracking technology at eight ballparks under a partnership with the ALPB that will allow it to test experimental playing rules and equipment during the latter’s Championship Season.

The ALPB has eight member teams in the Mid-Atlantic and Texas, with the league serving as a player gateway to MLB. The three-year agreement includes rights for MLB to implement changes to Atlantic League playing rules in order to observe the effects of potential future rule changes and equipment.

MLB had also said it would enhance its scouting coverage of the Atlantic League, installing radar tracking technology in the eight Atlantic League ballparks and providing statistical services to ALPB clubs. However, with the new Atlantic League season set to commence on April 25 the two parties have now announced adjustments to the preliminary list of experimental playing rules and equipment initiatives that MLB wishes to test during 2019 ALPB games.

First, the use of radar tracking technology to assist the home plate umpire in calling balls and strikes will be implemented gradually over the course of the 2019 season rather than on ALPB Opening Day. Second, the plan to extend the distance between the pitching rubber and home plate by 24 inches has been delayed from the second half of the ALPB’s 2019 season to the same point in 2020.

The two parties said these changes reflect the “dynamic nature” of the partnership, as well as a joint desire that the upcoming technology upgrades at ALPB ballparks be fully installed and calibrated prior to implementation of the experimental playing rules.

Rick White, president of the ALPB, said: “Our partnership with Major League Baseball calls for ongoing mutual consultation. As we conduct discussions and work together, certain adjustments will need to be made on an ongoing basis in order to serve the partnership’s priority of providing the best possible data to Major League Baseball in the highly competitive Atlantic League environment. This is, and will remain, a thoughtful relationship intended to best serve the future of the game of baseball.”

The ALPB’s reigning champion, Sugar Land Skeeters, plays at Constellation Field (pictured).

Image: Sugar Land Skeeters