A stricter pitch clock is in place across the minor leagues, and was first enforced beginning Friday night. Pitchers have 14 seconds to deliver a pitch with the bases empty, and 18 seconds with someone on base.
J.J. Cooper at Baseball America has studied minor league pace of play and game times for years, and noticed a dramatic change on Friday with the new pitch clock:
On their first day of enforcement, the new rules appeared to cut more than 25 minutes from the average game time.
Last night across the minors, the average game time for a nine-inning game was 2:38 and the median game time was 2:34. For the previous week of games, the average game time for a nine-inning game was 3:04 and the median game time was 2:59.
“I’ve never seen anything like what we saw last night,” Cooper tweeted on Saturday.
The timers are designed to make both pitchers and batters ready for play, with batters required to be in the box and ready to hit within the allotted time. In Friday night’s High-A Great Lakes game, Loons pitcher Troy Percival finished off a strikeout of Peoria designated hitter L.J. Jones with an automatic strike call.
We just had our first strikeout via a pitch-clock infraction! ⚾️⏱— Brad Tunney (@brad_tunney) April 15, 2022
Similar to the discussion around placed/ghost runner... what are we calling this? It's not automatic?
"given strike" or "clock strike" is what @nchaunceywolf and I have landed on so far. #MiLB pic.twitter.com/pgUhLMa5pT
Low-A tried an aggressive pitch timer in 2021, as did the Arizona Fall League, which MLB said reduced average game time by more than 20 minutes. But as Stockton Ports announcer Keaton Gillogly points out, the clock is only effective if enforced.
Yup. By August last year, the enforcement in the Cal League had all but evaporated. I'm curious what it will look like in late June when things start to heat up.— Keaton Gillogly (@Gillogly) April 16, 2022
Also the pitch clock in Stockton is broken so we haven't used it all week.
Links & notes
Maury Wills was inducted to the “Legends of Dodger Baseball” on Saturday, which included a plaque on permanent display at Dodger Stadium. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts wears number 30 now, just as he did in his three years in Los Angeles as a player (2002-2004), the same number Wills wore during in his 14 years in the majors.
Prior to tonight’s game, the Dodgers inducted Maury Wills into the “Legends of Dodger Baseball,” joining Steve Garvey, Don Newcombe and Fernando Valenzuela. Maury’s great-granddaughter Jasmin helped unveil the plaque on his behalf. pic.twitter.com/2hM0cKZmi3— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 17, 2022
“It came up through my agent John Boggs, who introduced me to Maury when I came over here in 2002, that winter prior to the season trying to figure out what number I wanted to be,” Roberts said Saturday. “It was an homage to Maury, and he was very gracious and supportive.”
Jorge Castillo at the Los Angeles Times profiled Reds pitcher Hunter Greene, whose second major league start came Saturday night at Dodger Stadium. That wasn’t far from the Urban Youth Academy in Compton, which Greene played at beginning at age seven. From Greene’s father Russell, to Castillo: “He was discouraged not seeing anyone who looked like him, on top of coaches screwing with him ... I saw that, and I didn’t want him to get away from the game. I wanted him to see other players like him, that struggled and succeeded all at the same time. The academy was such a beautiful place.”