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A Few Rules Changes Being Tested In the Arizona Fall League This Year

 Leif Skodnick  |    Oct 5th, 2023 1:00pm EDT

Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Arizona, will host a triple-header of Arizona Fall League games on October 14. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Staff Reports
World Baseball Network

There will be several notable rules changes tested during the Arizona Fall League season, which started October 2 and runs through November 11.

Pitch Clock

During the 2023 Arizona Fall League season, pitchers will have 15 seconds to deliver to the plate with the bases empty and 18 seconds with a runner on base. Major League Baseball currently gives a pitcher 15 seconds to deliver with the bases empty and 20 seconds with a runner on base.

Additionally, in the AFL this season, the pitch clock will reset immediately upon a batter calling time. In MLB, the pitch clock resets only when the batter who called time approaches the batter’s box again.

Work From The Stretch

Pitchers will be required to work from the stretch with runners on base. This will avoid pitchers being called for a balk when they don’t declare their intention to work from the windup and deliver the ball in a single motion.

Blocking Bases

Major League catchers haven’t been able to block the plate for several seasons now, but infielders are still technically allowed to block the bag. 

In the Arizona Fall League this year, fielders will be required to give runners a lane to the base. Runners will be called safe if the umpire determines that a fielder’s positioning impeded the runner’s progress to the next base. Exceptions will be made if the runner would have been out regardless or if the fielder was fielding a batted ball.  

Runner’s Lane Approaching First Base 

Under Major League rules, a baserunner is out when “in running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, they run outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, and in the umpire’s judgment in so doing interfere with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead” according to rule 5.09(a)(11).

This year in the AFL, a runner will be deemed to be within the rules so long as he stays within the dirt between the plate and first base. This allows right-handed batters to take a more natural and direct route to first base while remaining in compliance with the rule.

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Leif Skodnick