MLB’s automated ball-striking system will be used to challenge human calls in select low-A games


Andre Cohen

MLB’s automated ball-hitting system will be used to defy human umpire calls from home plate at select Low-A Southeast games this coming season. Teams will be limited to three calls per game, MLB announced Monday.

The new challenge system is among several experimental rules that MLB will test in minors this season. Hawk-Eye’s AI cameras were used to call balls and strikes in Low-A Southeast games last year and will return this season. However, in some Low-A “challenge games”, human umpires at home plate will call the strike zone while the pitcher, catcher, and batter can challenge a given ball or strike call by calling on ABS .

If the ABS decides the umpire’s call from home plate was correct, the team will lose a challenge, according to Baseball America. Canceled calls will allow a team to maintain their challenge.

MLB will also implement its ABS system for calling balls and strikes for all Triple-A West games beginning May 17. Human plate umpires will call the strike zone in Triple-A West games through May 15. The Knights’ home games this season will see balls and strikes called by ABS.

At the major league level, the MLBPA’s recent work proposal to MLB did not give MLB the right to implement robot umpires in the majors throughout the 2023 season. Other experimental rules Minor tested this season include height clocks and chainstay sizes increasing from 15 to 18 inches. The shift restrictions at Double-A, High-A and Low-A will require a minimum of four defensive players on the infield, with at least two infielders positioned on either side of second base.