It doesn’t come as a big surprise to those who are really tapped in, but the Florida State League appears to officially be on the list of the leagues that will be testing out the robot strikezone in 2020. Rob Manfred has noted that this upcoming year there would be more testing of the computerized/robot strikezone in the minor leagues this year in some leagues, but didn’t specify which ones at the time. In 2019 it was tested out in the independent Atlantic League in partnership with Major League Baseball. Then it was also used at select games in the Arizona Fall League. In both instances the system that was used was the Trackman radar system.
Why that is interesting is because Major League Baseball, which has used Trackman for more than half of a decade now as the interface for MLB Gameday and the strikezone you see on MLB broadcasts is not going to be used beginning in 2020. Instead, baseball will be moving to the Hawk-Eye system for pitch tracking at the big league level. According to a report from Jacob Bogage of The Washington Post, the Florida State League will be getting the robot strikezone for 2020:
NEWS: MLB will test its digital K zone (robo umps) at these Florida State League (A-advanced) ballparks:
– St. Lucie
– Fort Myers
All 9 ballparks host MLB spring training. Hardware installation happening this week.
— Jacob Bogage (@jacobbogage) January 24, 2020
The good news here is that at least they will be testing the same system that they will be using at the highest level. We know this because all of those ballparks already have the Trackman system installed in them. They wouldn’t be going in there to install them again.
As things stand as far as the Reds specifically, the ballpark they play in within the Florida State League will not have the robot strikezone. In Daytona they will have umpires calling balls and strikes, but in most of the road games they will be dealing with the Hawk-Eye strikezone. It will be interesting to see how the players on the teams who don’t have that system in their home ballparks feel about the differences.
The tweet from Bogage lists eight teams, but he notes “all 9 ballparks” after the list. Either way, a large majority of the league will have an electronic robotic camera designed strikezone.
Triple-A will be the only league to use the MLB Baseball Again
JJ Cooper and Josh Norris of Baseball America have been checking around the league and continue to hear from multiple sources that in 2020 there will only be one level that uses the Major League baseball, and that it will be the Triple-A level. That’s how it was in the 2019 season. But there were some rumors floating around baseball circles that it could be expanded to Double-A for 2020 as well. At least as of now, that doesn’t appear to be happening.