When the electronic strike zone received praise at the lower-levels of the minor leagues, and when the independent Atlantic League dumped the system because it was ready to be deployed at other affiliated levels, the writing was on the wall: robo umps were coming to more of the affiliated minor leagues in 2022.
Turns out, they’re coming to the highest level below MLB. The AP today reports, via ESPN, that robo umps were coming to at least some of the Triple-A ballparks:
MLB’s website posted a hiring notice seeking seasonal employees to operate the Automated Ball-Strike system. MLB said it is recruiting employees to operate the system for the Albuquerque Isotopes, Charlotte Knights, El Paso Chihuahuas, Las Vegas Aviators, Oklahoma City Dodgers, Reno Aces, Round Rock Express, Sacramento River Cats, Salt Lake Bees, Sugar Land Skeeters and Tacoma Rainiers.
It’s not immediately clear if that means those are the only parks where the electronic strike zone will be in operation, or if those are just the spots that need employees. Either way, it looks like a whole lotta Triple-A games in 2022 will feature robo umps.
Longer term, this seems like a stepping stone to implementing robo umps in the big leagues, something the umpire association as already agreed to permit. Whether that’s 2023 or beyond remains to be seen, though. Recall, the pitch clock has been implemented in the minor leagues – successfully – for years now. And it still is not on the radar for MLB in 2022, even if it absolutely should be.