MiLB announces pace-of-play regulations for 2018

Minor League Baseball announced Wednesday that new regulations are being implemented this year with the intent of speeding up pace of play. The Midwest League will be affected, as most of the new rules will be applied to all levels of MiLB. Here is MiLB’s press release in its entirety:

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Minor League Baseball today announced rule and procedure changes aimed at reducing the length of extra-innings games and the number of mound visits during a game throughout Minor League Baseball. In addition, the Triple-A and Double-A levels will use a 15-second pitch clock with no runners on base.

The procedures, created in partnership with Major League Baseball, aim to reduce the number of pitchers used in extra innings and the issues created by extra-innings games, including, but not limited to, shortages of pitchers in the days to follow, the use of position players as pitchers, and the transferring of players between affiliates due to pitching shortages caused by extra-innings games.

“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,” said Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner. “Player safety has been an area of growing concern for our partners at the Major League Baseball level, and the impact that lengthy extra-innings games has on pitchers, position players and an entire organization was something that needed to be addressed.”


  • At all levels of Minor League Baseball, extra innings will begin with a runner on second base. The runner at second base will be the player in the batting order position previous to the leadoff batter of the inning (or a substitute for that player). By way of example, if the No. 5 hitter in the batting order is due to lead off the 10th inning, the No. 4 player in the batting order (or a pinch-runner for such player) shall begin the inning on second base. Any runner or batter removed from the game for a substitute shall be ineligible to return to the game, as is the case in all circumstances under the Official Baseball Rules.
  • For purposes of calculating earned runs under Rule 9.16, the runner who begins an inning on second base pursuant to this rule shall be deemed to be a runner who has reached second base because of a fielding error, but no error shall be charged to the opposing team or to any player.


  • Visits by coaches and position players will be limited based on the classification level. Triple-A clubs will be allowed six (6) visits per team, Double-A clubs will be allowed eight (8) visits per team, Single-A clubs will be allowed 10 visits per team, and there will not be a limit on mound visits for Short Season and Rookie-level clubs.
  • These mound-visit limits will apply whether the game is scheduled for seven or nine innings.
  • For any extra innings played, each club shall be entitled to one additional non-pitching change mound visit per inning.
  • Official Baseball Rule 5.10(l), which governs mound visits by a manager or coach, remains in effect (i.e., a pitcher must be removed on the second visit by a manager/coach in an inning).

Definition of Mound Visit:

A manager or coach trip to the mound to meet with the pitcher shall constitute a visit. A player leaving his position to confer with the pitcher, including a pitcher leaving the mound to confer with another player, shall also constitute a mound visit, regardless of where the visit occurs or the length of the visit, except that the following shall not constitute mound visits:

  • a. Discussions between pitchers and position player(s) that (i) occur between batters in the normal course of play and do not require either the position player(s) or the pitcher to relocate;
  • b. Visits by position players to the mound to clean spikes in rainy conditions;
  • c. Visits to the mound due to an injury or potential injury of the pitcher; and
  • d. Visits to the mound after the announcement of an offensive substitution.

Cross-Up in Signs:

In the event a team has exhausted its allotment of mound visits in a game (or extra inning) and the home plate umpire determines that the catcher and pitcher did not have a shared understanding of the location or type of pitch that had been signaled by the catcher (otherwise referred to as a “cross-up”), the home plate umpire may, upon request of the catcher, allow the catcher to make a brief mound visit. Any mound visit resulting from a cross-up prior to a team exhausting its allotted number of visits shall count against a team’s total number of allotted mound visits.


  • Pitchers at the Triple-A and Double-A levels 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.
  • The pitcher does not necessarily have to release the ball within 15 seconds, but must begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position to comply with the 15-second rule with no runners on base.
  • With runners on base, the pitch timer will go from 15 to 20 seconds.
  • The timer shall start when the pitcher has possession of the ball in the dirt circle surrounding the pitcher’s rubber, the catcher is in the catcher’s box and the batter is in the dirt circle surrounding home plate.
  • The timer will stop as soon as the pitcher begins his wind-up, or begins the motion to come to the set position.
  • If the pitcher feints a pick-off or steps off the rubber with runners on base, the timer shall reset and start again immediately.
  • Umpires have the authority to stop the pitch timer and order a reset.
  • Following any event (e.g., pick-off play) that permits the batter to leave the batter’s box, the timer shall start when the pitcher has possession of the ball in the dirt circle surrounding the pitcher’s rubber, and the catcher is in the catcher’s box.
  • Following an umpire’s call of “time” or if the ball becomes dead and the batter remains at bat, the timer shall start after the next pitch or play.
  • Should the pitcher fail to begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position in 15 seconds with no runners on base, or 20 seconds with a runner on base, a ball will be awarded to the count on the batter.
  • Should the batter fail to be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher with seven (7) or more seconds remaining on the pitch timer, a strike will be awarded to the count on the batter.
  • The first 15 days of the season (April 5-19) will serve as a grace period, with players receiving warnings for infractions. Beginning April 20, rules will be enforced as written.

“We feel that limiting mound visits and decreasing the amount of time between pitches with no runners on base will further improve the pace of play and make it a more enjoyable experience for our fans,” said O’Conner.

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Lugnuts, Blue Jays extend affiliation through 2020 season

The Lansing Lugnuts and the Toronto Blue Jays announced a two-year extension of their affiliation Wednesday. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The Lansing Lugnuts and their parent club, the Toronto Blue Jays, announced Wednesday that they’ve extended their Player Development Contract through the 2020 season.

The two teams have been affiliated since the 2005 season. The Lugnuts previously were affiliated with the Kansas City Royals (1996-98) and the Chicago Cubs (1999-2004). They won Midwest League titles in 1997 and 2003, and most recently played in the MWL championship series in 2011.

Many notable Blue Jays prospects have played for the Lugnuts over the past 14 seasons, including current New York Mets ace Noah Syndergaard (2011-12) and last year’s dynamic prospect duo, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. played 71 games with the Lansing Lugnuts last year. He is widely considered one of the top prospects in baseball. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Lansing will host the 2018 MWL All-Star Game on Tuesday, June 19. The city previously hosted a MWL All-Star Game in 2002. The rosters for that game included future major-leaguers Joe Mauer (Quad City River Bandits), Edwin Encarnacion (Dayton Dragons), Dontrelle Willis (Kane County Cougars), Dan Haren (Peoria Chiefs), Don Kelly (West Michigan Whitecaps) and Shin-Soo Choo (Wisconsin Timber Rattlers).

Lansing’s ballpark looks much different than it did during the 2002 All-Star Game. In recent years, Cooley Law School Stadium has undergone significant renovations, including addition of an outfield-area apartment complex, a new scoreboard, and new turf.

Outfield apartments and a new scoreboard are among the additions to Cooley Law School Stadium in recent years. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Other Lugnuts news from this offseason:

Lugnuts unveil new team-branded vodka

Blue Jays announce 2018 Lugnuts coaching staff

Posted in 2011 Playoffs, 2018 All-Star Game, Dayton Dragons, Kane County Cougars, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Quad Cities River Bandits, West Michigan Whitecaps, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Timber Rattlers announce winning entry in Food Fight contest

“Rattler Bites” was announced Monday as the winning entry in this year’s Food Fight contest. (Photo tweeted by Post-Crescent writer Daniel Higgins)

The winning entry in this year’s Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Food Fight contest was announced Monday on The Post-Crescent‘s Facebook page.

“Rattler Bites” was unveiled as the winner. It previously was described by the Timber Rattlers as being “sauerkraut, chopped brats, and cream cheese deep-fried in a wonton wrapper, served with spicy brown mustard.”

You can read about all five finalists in the contest here.

Posted in Midwest League, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Former Cougars outfielder suspended 80 games for PEDs

Kansas City Royals outfielder Jorge Bonifacio (right) played for the Kane County Cougars in 2012. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Former Kane County Cougars outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, who made his major-league debut for the Kansas City Royals last year, has been suspended 80 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, Major League Baseball announced Saturday.

Bonifacio reportedly tested positive for the banned substance Boldenone. His suspension begins on Opening Day.

He batted .255 with 17 HR and 40 RBI in 113 games with the Royals last year.

Bonifacio played for Kane County in 2012, when the Cougars were affiliated with the Royals. He batted .282 with 10 HR and 61 RBI in 105 Midwest League games.

Posted in Kane County Cougars, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Lugnuts announce new team-branded vodka

The Lansing Lugnuts and American Fifth Spirits announced Friday the creation of a team-branded spirit called LÜG Vodka.

“The Lugnuts have been at the forefront of innovation since our inception in 1996, and through LÜG we saw the perfect opportunity to combine the Lugnuts brand with a terrific local partner,” Lugnuts general manager Tyler Parsons said in a press release. “The spirit and distilling scene is rapidly growing, especially here in Lansing, and we’re excited to be a part of that movement.”

American Fifth Spirits owner Rick Wyble said the Lansing distillery is excited to work with the Lugnuts on this concept. “By being at the forefront of supporting the production of locally-made spirits, the club is not only partnering with a Stadium District neighbor, but also all the Michigan farmers that we use to source our local ingredients.”

LÜG is corn-based and gluten-free, and will be available during Lugnuts games at both Cooley Law School Stadium and nearby American Fifth Spirits. The Lugnuts also plan to offer LÜG-inspired specialty cocktails at their ballpark this season.

Posted in Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League | Leave a comment