MLB testing modified “pie slice” infield shift ban in minors

NEW YORK (AP) — The Florida State League will limit defensive shifts by drawing chalk lines in a pie shape from second base to the outfield grass starting July 22, prohibiting infielders from the marked area pre-pitch in an experiment that could increase offense.

Major League Baseball has been testing shift limits all season at Double-A and Class A, requiring teams to have four players on the infield, including two on each side of second base.

The experiment in the Class A FSL was first reported by The Athletic and confirmed by MLB on Tuesday.

A competition committee comprised of six management officials, four union representatives and one umpire was established in the new collective bargaining agreement, and it has the right to make on-field rules changes with 45 days’ notice.

MLB is likely to institute a pitch clock next season. It has been experimenting this season with a 14-second pitch clock with no runners and a 19-second pitch clock with runners at Triple-A, with the clock at 18 seconds with no runners at lower levels.

Minor league bases have been increased to 18 inches square from 15.

“We’ve said for years that the minor leagues provide us with a really important opportunity to experiment, learn and make sure we understand how something’s going to work if we deploy it on the field,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said last month.

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