In a memo distributed among its executives on Tuesday, Major League Baseball outlined a series of rules changes to be used during the 2023 minor league season. Some—like the pitch clock, larger bases and restrictions on defensive positioning—are tweaks to changes that have been put in place in previous seasons in the minor leagues and have been adopted in the big leagues.
Others, like the use of PitchCom and baseballs designed to help pitchers get better grips, are new to the minors.
Here are the changes as outlined in the memo:
PITCH CLOCKS: As in 2022, pitch clocks will be in play at all full-season levels (but not in the complex leagues in Arizona, Florida or the Dominican Republic). The differences from 2022 to 2023 are small.
Between pitches with the bases empty, the MiLB pitch clocks will be set to 14 seconds. That’s a one-second shorter difference from the big leagues.
Between pitches with runners on, Triple-A clocks will be set to 19 seconds. From Double-A on down, the clocks will be set to 18 seconds. In the big leagues, that figure is 20 seconds.
There is no difference in between-hitter and between-inning timing in the big leagues and the minors; all levels will have 30 seconds and 2 minutes, 15 seconds, respectively, in those situations. The between-inning timer will begin as soon as the final out of the preceding half-inning is recorded. Previously, the timer would not start for a new pitcher until he had exited the bullpen area.
Batters will be required to be “in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher” with eight seconds remaining on the timer. This change shaves a second off of the rules from 2022 and aligns with the big league standard.
Unlike 2022, there will be no ease-in period during the 2023 season. The rules will be enforced immediately upon Opening Day.
The only exceptions will be for major leaguers on rehab assignments. In those cases, the clocks will be enforced to the MLB standards.
PICKOFFS AND STEP-OFFS: Pitchers will be limited to two disengagements—pickoffs, pickoff attempts or any other disengagement from the rubber with runners on base. This count will remain the same even if a runner advances or is picked off during a plate appearance. In the big leagues, the disengagement count will reset if a runner advances during a plate appearance.
BASE SIZE: The 18-square inch bases will return in 2023. In the first half of the season, the bases will be positioned in their normal fashion. The league will gauge the level of…
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