Minor League Baseball announced pace of play changes that will go into effect for the 2018 season, including putting a runner in scoring position for games that go into extra innings.
At all levels of the Minors, extras will begin with a runner on second base with nobody out. The runner at second base will be the player in the batting order position previous to the leadoff batter of the inning, or a substitute for that player.
MiLB is hoping that this will shorten games and the number of pitching changes. As far as stat keeping goes, the runner at second base will be deemed to be a runner who has reached because of a fielding error, but no error shall be charged to the opposing team or to any player.
The second change is a similar one to the change that Major League Baseball is implementing this season in that mound visits will be limited. Triple-A teams will have six non-pitching change visits per team, which is the same that MLB is allowing.
Double-A teams will be allowed eight, Single-A teams will be allowed 10 and there will not be a limit on mound visits for Short Season and Rookie-level affiliates.
Like MLB, the home-plate umpire is allowed to grant the pitcher and catcher a meeting without it counting towards their team’s total if they are getting crossed up on signs.
The final change is the implementation of a 15-second pitch clock in Double-A and Triple-A when no runners are on base. That clock will be increased to 20 seconds when runners are on base. It will start when the pitcher gets the ball back from the catcher or position player.
A pitcher must at least come set by the end of the allotted time. If a pitcher does not come set by that point, then a ball will be awarded to the hitter.
While the changes seem like big ones, MiLB is the place to test out changes like these to see if they shorten games without drastically changing how the game is played to see what can possibly be implemented in the Majors.