Minor league baseball to begin extra innings with a runner on second

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The changes were announced Wednesday by MiLB and include pitch clocks for some classifications and a runner on second base to start all extra innings, The Washington Post reported.

At the Double-A and Triple-A levels, a 15-second pitch clock is being implemented when there are no runners on base. The minors have used 20-second pitch clocks in the past, and now they're experimenting with an even shorter time frame.

"We believe these changes to extra innings will enhance the fans' enjoyment of the game and will become something that the fans will look forward to on nights when the game is tied late in the contest", Minor League Baseball president Pat O'Conner said in a statement, Ballpark Digest reported.

Mound visit limits for Triple-A (six per game), Double-A (eight per game), and Single-A (ten per game). For extra innings, each team will receive an extra mound visit for each inning played. Triple-A teams will be allowed six visits per game and an additional non-pitching change visit per extra inning.

Minor League Baseball will implement a series of rule changes created to reduce the length of games for the 2018 season, the organization announced Wednesday.

A runner who starts an extra inning at second shall be counted as reaching on an error for purposes of determining earned runs, but no errors shall be charged.

The runner at second will be the batter in the order prior to that inning's leadoff hitter, and players removed from the game will be ineligible to return. There are a few exceptions to the mound visit rules, such as for injuries, which you can read about here.

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The press release describes mound visits as "a manager or coach trip to the mound to meet with the pitcher" or "a player leaving his position to confer with the pitcher, including a pitcher leaving the mound to confer with another player, shall also constitute a mound visit, regardless of where the visit occurs or the length of the visit". Visits to the mound after the announcement of an offensive substitution.

The new extra-innings format will be adopted across all minor league levels. Nah, not really, mostly because it nearly ensures that the first action in extra innings will be a sacrifice bunt to get that runner to third, often followed by an intentional walk to set up a double play, and bunts and intentional walks are dumb and unexciting most of the time. The clock will restart after any events - pick-off play, "time" awarded by the umpire, etc. - that allows the batter to leave the box.

-The timer will stop as soon as the pitcher begins his wind-up, or begins the motion to come to the set position. It would nearly make sense, then, to give each team the option of beginning the inning with a runner on second with nobody out or a runner on third with one out.

The first two weeks of the season will serve as a grace period with warnings for infractions.

The changes will go into affect on April 20.

See full pace of play rules.