Today marks the beginning of a new era of Pacific Coast League baseball: we are pushing the “power” button and turning on the robot umpires.
The Automated Ball/Strike System, or ABS, is being implemented throughout the league starting tonight. The system was installed in all ten PCL parks prior to the start of the season, and it has been operating and adjusted behind the scenes during the first six weeks of the season, and now for the first time it is going to be actually used.
Sensors have been set up throughout all of the parks that can measure exactly where the baseball is when it passes over the heart of the plate. A computer reads the information and sends an audio signal to the home plate umpire, who is wearing an ear piece under his facemask. The umpire then relays the information via a traditional ball/strike call. Supposedly, the process is nearly instantaneous – we shall find out today.
The following graphic has been made available to the players and coaches, and is posted in some dugouts around the league. Also, there is contact information as MLB is looking for feedback from the players.
Obviously, I’ll be watching closely to see if we get any major changes with this system now in place, and I’ll try to get some feedback from the guys later in the week after they get a couple games to see it. Whether this whole system is good or bad, I don’t know yet, but it certainly is interesting.
Our first home game at Cheney Stadium with the ABS system will be Tuesday, May 24 against Las Vegas. Get ready to heckle the robot umpire!
YESTERDAY: The whole league was off on Monday. Sunday was the final game of the year for Reno at Tacoma, and we waited through a record-setting rain delay of 5 hours and 12 minutes before getting the game started, only to see the Rainiers lose 4-3. Stone Garrett snapped a 3-3 tie with a solo homer for Reno in the top of the seventh inning and it held up. Joe Odom had two hits for the Rainiers, including a two-run homer. Reno won the series, 4-2, and Tacoma still has not split or won a series this season.
TODAY: Tacoma Rainiers (11-25) at Sacramento River Cats (18-18), 6:35
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: San Francisco Giants.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Dave Brundage.
SEASON SERIES: 0-0.
PITCHERS: LHP Justus Sheffield (0-2, 24.30) at RHP Sean Hjelle (2-1, 6.31)
The 6-foot-11 Hjelle (pronounced “jelly”) recently made his major league debut for San Francisco, which tied him for the record of Tallest Pitcher in MLB History (with Jon Rauch).
ROSTER MOVES: Recent acquisitions are reporting to the Rainiers today: pitcher Adrian Sampson and infielder Alex Blandino join the club today, and just-optioned outfielder Jarred Kelenic is here as well. Reliever Roenis Elias was called up by Seattle yesterday. Infielder Cesar Izturis Jr. and outfielder Miguel Perez were transferred back to extended spring training. Recently designated reliever Yohan Ramirez has been traded to Cleveland for cash considerations.
HOT HITTERS: Mason McCoy‘s streaks all ended on Sunday: he had reached base in 15 straight games, hitting safely in 14 of them with a nine-game hitting streak… Sam Haggerty has reached base safely in ten straight games… Marcus Wilson has homered three times during his last four games.
OPPONENT NEWS: Sacramento just split a six-game series at El Paso, 3-3… Austin Dean hit three solo homers on Sunday, tying a River Cats record… Isan Diaz hit four homers during the six games at El Paso… David Villar also homered four times at El Paso; he leads the league with 12 home runs, but only two have come in home games… former Rainiers from this season Donovan Walton, Kevin Padlo, and Stuart Fairchild are all expected to play for Sacramento in this series.
BROADCAST: All games will be broadcast free on a live audio stream which is available right here.
Unfortunately, there is no traditional terrestrial radio station carrying the games at this time.
PCL SCOREBOARD: Follow all league games in real-time with links to broadcasts and Gameday screens right here.
- The News Tribune has its weekly Tacoma Rainiers update, with the lead item on infielder Zach Green who is having a homecoming this week at Sacramento.
- Yesterday former Mariner Yusei Kikuchi pitched Toronto to a 6-2 win over the M’s… On Sunday, the M’s edged the Mets 8-7 as Cal Raleigh belted a go-ahead home run.
- Julio Rodriguez is adjusting to life in the major leagues.
- Two Mariners pitchers were unable to enter Canada due to vaccination requirements.
- Steven Souza Jr. did a radio interview on KJR today.
- A Mariners prospect at Advanced-A Everett appears on this week’s edition of the Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet.
- In the PCL, Kris Bryant starts a rehabilitation assignment for Albuquerque today, on the road at Salt Lake.
- Here’s a feature on Las Vegas catcher Shea Langeliers, one of the top prospects in baseball who will be seen at Cheney Stadium next week (unless he gets called up before then).