Change is coming to Smith’s Ballpark.
According to a report Thursday by ESPN’s Buster Olney, an electronic strike zone will be implemented in all Triple-A stadiums, including the home of the Salt Lake Bees, in the 2023 season.
All Triple-A games will feature the electronic strike zone, also known as the Automatic Balls and Strikes (ABS) system.
It will be implemented in one of two ways — half of the games will be played with a completely automated system that makes all of the calls and relays the correct call to the umpire, who then calls out ball or strike.
The other half of the games will be “played with an ABS challenge system similar to that used in professional tennis,” per Olney.
The home plate umpire would determine balls and strikes on his own, like normal, but a team would get three challenges per game. When a team uses a challenge, the electronic strike zone will be used to see if the call on the field can be overturned.
The ABS system has been in place in some minor leagues since 2019, when it debuted in the Arizona Fall League.
It was used at times at Smith’s Ballpark in the 2022 season, including a May game against the Albuquerque Isotopes.
It’s the latest experiment by Major League Baseball, which has used the minor leagues to test rule changes before.
In 2017 for example, Smith’s Ballpark implemented a pitch clock for all Bees games. Six years later, MLB announced that the pitch clock has been called up to the big leagues.
All MLB games in 2023 will feature a 15-second pitch clock with the bases empty and a 20-second pitch clock with runners on base.