A day at a Minor League ballpark sometimes flies by. This year, Triple-A and Double-A baseball games may go even faster.
At this week's Owners Meetings in Arizona, pace-of-game has been a key item on the agenda. Negotiations with the Players' Union are ongoing, but reports indicate that a 20-second pitch clock will be used at the two upper levels of the Minor Leagues this season.
The pitch clock was first implemented in affiliated ball during select games in the 2014 Arizona Fall League season. In the AFL, a violation of the 20-second clock was grounds for an automatic ball granted to the batter.
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The possibility of bringing the pitch clock into Minor League games was broached in a December conversation between Minor League Baseball president Pat O'Conner and Major League Baseball chief officer Joe Torre at the Winter Meetings.
"It was part of the discussion," Torre told MLB.com at the time. "It's something that we'd certainly like to see more testing done with, and there is a chance that will happen. I was never a proponent of introducing the clock in baseball, but I went out [to the AFL], and I was pretty impressed. [The clock] was there, but it really wasn't intrusive in any way."
Other changes tested during the AFL campaign -- such as requiring a hitter to keep one foot in the batter's box during the entirety of an at-bat and time limits on pitching changes -- reportedly will also be implemented in the Triple-A and Double-A leagues.
The AFL also tested a rule whereby managers could wave an opposing hitter to first base rather than have the pitcher throw the four pitches required for an intentional walk, but Torre indicated in December that it was unlikely that this rule would go any further.