Major League Baseball (MLB) announced last week that it has reached a three-year agreement with the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) that will permit MLB to test experimental playing rules and equipment during the Atlantic League’s regular season.
In addition to rules governing the transfer of players from the Atlantic League to Major League Baseball, the new agreement includes rights for MLB to implement changes to Atlantic League playing rules in order to observe the effects of potential future rule changes and equipment. MLB will work with ALPB to modify the experimental playing rules and equipment each season during the agreement.
MLB also will enhance its scouting coverage of the Atlantic League, installing radar tracking technology in the eight Atlantic League ballparks and providing statistical services to ALPB clubs, including Constellation Field, home of the Sugar Land Skeeters.
“This is a monumental day for the Atlantic League and the Sugar Land Skeeters,” said team owner Kevin Zlotnik. “I want to thank ALPB President Rick White and founder Frank Boulton for continuing to take the ALPB to greater heights. This deal clearly shows that MLB believes our league is a showcase not for only talent, but innovation, as well. It’s long been speculated that Major League Baseball believes that quicker pace of play, more accurate judgment calls, and increased offensive action could increase fan interaction, so we eagerly await the experimental changes MLB will implement for the upcoming season.”
“The Atlantic League’s partnership with Major League Baseball will impact the future of baseball, and we are thrilled to be at the forefront of innovation within the game,” added General manager Tyler Stamm. “Baseball fans in the Houston area will have an exclusive opportunity to experience this exciting future each night at Constellation Field.”
The new agreement continues Major League Baseball’s longstanding practice of testing potential new approaches under game conditions. In recent years, MLB has utilized and evaluated experimental rules in its Arizona Fall League, the game’s top off-season developmental platform.
“We are excited to announce this new partnership with the Atlantic League,” said Morgan Sword, MLB’s senior vice president, league economics and operations. “We look forward to bringing some of the best ideas about the future of our game to life in a highly competitive environment.”
Atlantic League President Rick White added, “The Atlantic League prides itself on innovation. In that spirit, our board of directors, led by Chairman and founder Frank Boulton, enthusiastically and unanimously approved this forward-looking agreement.”
Major League Baseball and the Atlantic League will announce the experimental playing rule and equipment changes for the 2019 season in the coming weeks.