Atlantic League announces additional rules for upcoming season in partnership with MLB

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports
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The Atlantic League season is set to begin in just more than a month and its rules are now set.

One week after it announced a pair of major changes for the 2021 season, the league said on Thursday it will also retain several rules originally introduced during the 2019 season — rules that will also be implemented in affiliated baseball.

The Atlantic League is a partner league with Major League Baseball and is being used to test rule changes that MLB is considering or has already implemented.

The Automated Ball-Strike System (also known as the robot umpire), which debuted at the 2019 Atlantic League All-Star Game in York, will be back this season and will be used in the Low-A Southeast League as well.

Atlantic League umpire Brian deBrauwere wears an earbud behind Revolution catcher James Skelton during a demonstration of the automated ball-strike system at PeopleBank Park Monday, July 8, 2019. The system, sanctioned by Major League Baseball, will make its official debut at the 2019 Atlantic League All-Star Game at the park. Bill Kalina photo

The three-batter minimum rule requiring pitchers to face a minimum of three batters or finish an inning before being removed has been adopted by MLB and will be used again in the Atlantic League.

Bases will be 18 inches again this season, up from the 15-inch version used in MLB. All Triple-A affiliated clubs will use the 18-inch bases this season as well.

Infielders in the Atlantic League will be required to be standing on the infield dirt when a pitch is released. This rule will also be used in Double-A in 2021.

In an effort to improve pace of play, Atlantic League teams will have 1 minute, 45 seconds between innings. Pitchers will also be limited to 15 seconds between pitches, which will also be used in Low-A West League.

During extra-inning games, a runner will be placed on second base to start in the first extra inning of regular-season games. This rule is also being used by MLB in 2021.

Teams will be limited to three timeouts during each nine-inning game. One additional timeout will be allowed in the 10th inning and another for every three extra innings.

Additionally, the Atlantic League will continue to use the automatic intentional walk rule also used by MLB.

Last week, the Atlantic League announced it will use two new rules the MLB wants to test for potential future use.

The “double hook” would remove a team’s designated hitter once its starting pitcher leaves the game, and the pitching mound will be moved back one foot, to 61 feet, 6 inches. The “double hook” rule will be in effect for the start of the Atlantic League season, which begins May 27. The mound move will happen during the second half of the season.

The York Revolution open Atlantic League action on May 28.

—Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.