Major League Baseball has been using various levels of independent and Minor League Baseball to test new ideas, rules, and most recently, the pitch clock, and shift restrictions.
The Los Angeles Angels have numerous players who’ve benefited from the limit on defensive alignments, as have many other players around the league. MLB and commissioner Rob Manfred have taken a rather aggressive approach to draw new eyes to the game and gather as many new-age fans as there’ve been in recent years.
For the most part, there have been positive results when MLB puts ideas into action at low levels of the minors, and with a change to the substance rules for pitchers at the Major League level, a new baseball to aid that switch is in action at Double-A, via Jeff Fletcher of the O.C. Register:
They are using a ball that has a more tacky surface, theoretically eliminating the need for pitchers to apply other substances to the ball to get a grip.
However, the ball spins so much that it’s difficult to control, resulting in more batters getting hit by wild pitches or walking, and swinging and missing at the ones in the strike zone.
The Angels use Double-A and the Southern League to house the bulk of their top-end prospects, and recently called up top shortstop farmhand Zach Neto, who discussed its impact in his firsthand experience:
“They’re like Wiffle balls down there,” he said. “It’s definitely harder for the pitcher to throw a strike because the ball moves so much. When it is in the strike zone, it’s definitely harder to hit than usual. … Hopefully, people don’t see those balls in the big leagues, because they are very, very difficult to hit.”
Through the first month of the season in Southern League play, walks per nine innings are up a slight bit, but a full year of data is required to hone in on the true potential of a solution that’ll aid in getting a better, legal grip on a baseball.
Angels consider calling up catcher prospect Edgar Quero
Angels seemingly had the future of their starting catcher position for the first few weeks of the regular season, but when Logan O’Hoppe dropped to a knee following a swing at Yankee Stadium, general manager Perry Minasian was once again left searching for an answer behind the dish.
O’Hoppe the year with a 141 wRC+ through 59 plate appearances including four homers, and 13 RBI. But a torn labrum has sidelined him for what could be the season, and the Angels front office has faith in who they have behind the rookie backstop.
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