Major League Baseball announced an additional set of rule changes to be found in the Atlantic Professional Baseball League during the second half of the 2019 Atlantic League Championship season, which begins on Friday, July 12.
One of the alterations is that pitchers must now get out of the rubber before attempting to eliminate a base runner. In MLB, this is not mandatory, since pitchers can throw to any base without leaving the mound.
Another change to the rule is that a touch of foul will be allowed with a count of two strokes before a strike is recorded. The first attempt to fail with two punches was previously treated as a regular punch.
Other additions include the ability of a hitter to now "steal" first base when a receiver does not receive the ball on the fly. This includes pass balls or wild throws. A batter can be sent off at first base in case he tries to advance when a ball passes the top.
Finally, the check swing rule will now strongly favor hitters. Most of the time, when a batter controls his swing, the throw is considered a ball instead of a strike.
The new set of game rules will be implemented in addition to the changes that were installed before the start of the 2019 season.
Those alterations include the home plate umpires now assisted by a radar tracking system and an attack zone defined by the MLB. In addition, visits to the mounds were essentially prohibited, with the exception of changes in the launch and medical controls.
Pitchers must also face a minimum of three batters or reach the end of the inning before they can leave the game, unless the pitcher is injured. This is a rule that will open the way to the MLB for the start of the 2020 season.
Among other changes, the increase in the size of the bases from 15 square inches to 18 square inches is included. In an effort to shorten play times, the period between entries and throw changes was further reduced from two minutes and five seconds to one minute and 45 seconds.
While it is likely that most of these game rules never reach the MLB, some around the sport have expressed their displeasure with the experimentation that is taking place in the ALPB.
Rich Hill was not a fan of the initial changes in the rules that shaped the Atlantic League and considers himself an old school that opposes any drastic change in the way baseball is played.