Minor leagues to enforce pitch clock, change extra-inning rules

Minor League Baseball is rolling out new rules to shorten extra-innings games and likely speed up the action in all games, it was announced Wednesday.

The changes, developed in conjunction with Major League Baseball, are expected to benefit teams by alleviating wear and tear on pitching staffs and also make for a better experience for fans by shortening the length of games.

The biggest change involves starting all extra innings with a runner on second base. That runner will be the player in the batting order position one spot ahead of the scheduled leadoff batter of the inning.

%InlineRelated-url="https://www.aol.com/article/news/2018/03/13/mlb-season-preview-the-teams-that-could-disappoint-in-2018/23384837/" CTA="SEE ALSO" title="MLB season preview: The teams that could disappoint in 2018"%

A similar rule has been in common use in softball for a number of years, helping to curtail the number of games that go deep into extra innings.

"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 where the game is tied late in the contest," Minor League Baseball President Pat O'Conner said in a statement.

In another change, Triple-A and Double-A pitchers will be allowed 15 seconds to begin their wind-up or the motion to come to the set position when no runners are on base. It becomes a 20-second clock with runners on base.

If the pitcher does not begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position in the allotted time, a ball will be added to the count on the batter. Should the batter fail to be in the batter's box and alert to the pitcher with seven or more seconds remaining on the pitch timer, a strike will be added to the count.

Related: Major league players who have switched teams this offseason:

Minor league games will also have a cap on the number of visits to the mound by coaches and position players. Triple-A clubs will be allowed six visits per team, Double-A will be given eight and Single-A squads will be allowed 10. There will not be a limit on mound visits for short season and rookie-level clubs.

Teams will be allowed one additional visit in each extra inning played.

The rules governing mound visits by managers are coaches remain unchanged. The second such visit to a hurler in an inning will continue to require a pitching change.

Players will receive only warnings for violations in the first two weeks of the season, the announcement said. The rules will be fully enforced beginning April 20.

-- Field Level Media