Major League Baseball will launch a pre-tacked baseball in the Triple-A games for the final week and a half of the minor-league season, Basel America’s Kyle Glasser reports. The new ball will not be effective in all of the top-level games for minors, as MLB executive vice president of baseball operations Morgan Swords told Glasser that there is still not enough supply to support the wide rollout.
Showing the experimental ball at such a late stage of the season is a bit surprising. However, pre-tacked balls are tested in games, but at times this seems to be an inevitability. Last month, Yahoo’s Hannah Kizer! Sports reported that the MLB sent a prototype of the pre-tacked ball for the opinion of some major league players.
The test comes after the league’s crackdown on the use of foreign substances. It was mainly inspired by the desire to police the most feared criminals, the pitchers who used extremely sticky substances to improve the quality of their raw materials. However, the MLB has announced that it will enact all non-rosin sticky stuff laws এমনকি even substances that are generally considered acceptable, such as a sunscreen / rosin combination করা to make the application more effective for umpires. The league at the time revealed an openness for potential pre-tacked baseballs that would improve pitcher grips without meaningfully, artificially improving pitch movement. Three months later, it found a product that it thought was suitable for in-game evaluation.
Pre-tacked baseball যা which involves more than the traditional tactical process of rubbing the ball with mud এটি will change to the approved position. But this is not a new idea. Some foreign leagues such as Japan’s NPB and South Korea’s KBO have used pre-tacked balls for many years, and some U.S. national team players have gone on record in support of the pre-tacked balls used at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. (The KBO and NPB rules call for slightly different ball-related features than the MLB regulations, so the pre-tacked prototype of the MLB will not be the same as that foreign league ball). MLB itself experimented with a pre-tacked baseball at Spring Training 2019 but canceled the project after receiving negative feedback.
With less than two weeks left in the season at Triple and the pre-tacked ball has yet to be effective in all those games, there won’t be much time to collect league data this year. Nevertheless, the entry of new balls into competitive affiliate games is significant at all, and it is safe to assume that MLB will continue to seek player feedback and monitor results for future seasons before considering introducing it at the big league level.
The potential change in the ball is just one of the few changes MLB has tested in the minor leagues. The MLB has introduced rule changes at various levels of season entry. The bases were slightly extended to Triple-A; Defensive transfers were limited to double-A. An electronic strike zone, a range of pickoffs, and a 15-second pitch clock were placed at different levels for the younger ones.
Most of these measures will remain under evaluation, as Glasser separately reported that the MLB plans to test those rules at this year’s Arizona Fall League. Although MLB has purposefully distributed those rule changes to minors at different levels to evaluate their effects in isolation, they have been combined in the AFL to determine if there will be an overall effect. Glaser’s post on the Fall League change is perfectly worth reading for those interested, as this article from Athletic Jason Stark from last week on the impact of the pitch clock on playing in the West League at low this season.