Boston Red Sox

By Matt McCarthy,

The “human element” of baseball is set to go away in the independent Atlantic League this summer as part of a Major League Baseball-sponsored test of robotic balls and strikes calls.

MLB has worked out a three-year agreement to allow the Atlantic League to serve as a testing ground for a variety of rule changes and experimental game alterations, most notably computerized adjudication of the strike zone.

The deal was first reported by Baseball America. 

MLB will reportedly install a computer program called Trackman at every Atlantic League ballpark to call balls and strikes. The system will also provide data to scouts looking at signing players out of the independent league.

The publication also reported that the Atlantic League could move the mound back from the traditional 60-feet, 6-inches from home plate.

A number of proposed rule changes and test initiatives will be announced in the coming weeks, according to both leagues.

“We look forward to bringing some of the best ideas about the future of the game to a highly competitive environment,” said Morgan Sword, Senior Vice President for Economics and Operations for Major League Baseball.

MLB has previously used the Arizona Fall League to try out rule changes in the past, but the Atlantic League offers an opportunity to test new ideas over the course of a 140-game schedule.

The Atlantic League is an eight-team organization with franchises mostly in the Mid-Atlantic region. The New Britain Bees are the only team in the league in New England.

You can hear Matt McCarthy on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s own Hardcore Baseball podcast and on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.