The independent Atlantic League will use electronic strike-zone technology for the rest of the season after introducing it at the league's All-Star Game and receiving positive feedback, according to ESPN.
The Atlantic League signed a contract to help Major League Baseball test out new rules this past winter and became the first professional outlet to implement robot umpires when it used the technology during the All-Star Game earlier in July. That technology is now being rolled out to all teams' stadiums and will be implemented starting Thursday.
"This is a landmark day for the Atlantic League and professional baseball," league president Rick White said in a statement. "After successfully unveiling the ABS (Automated Ball-Strike System) at our All-Star Game in York, Pa., and following positive feedback from managers, players, umpires and fans, we are eager to implement the consistent strike-zone accuracy offered by ABS technology.
"We're very excited about what this portends not only for our league but for the future of baseball. What we know is technology can help umpires be more accurate, and we're committed to that. We think the Atlantic League is being a pioneer for all of the sport."
For the All-Star Game, home plate umpire Brian deBrauwere wore an earpiece connected to an iPhone in his pocket and TrackMan software then relayed the call to him. It was incumbent upon deBrauwere to signal ball or strike to the players on the field while making judgments on things TrackMan would miss, like checked swings or a pitch that bounces yet still passes through the strike zone.
Since the beginning of the season, the Atlantic League has tested a host of rules on MLB's behalf. Those trials have included disallowing all mound visits, requiring pitchers to face at least three batters, eliminating the shift, and increasing the distance between the pitcher's mound and home plate.