Major League Baseball is expected to use an automated ball-strike system across the Triple-A class during the 2023 season, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. Olney notes that half of the Triple-A contests will be played using the electronic strike zone, and half will be played using a challenge system -- or, for those unaware, a system similar to what is used in professional tennis matches, where competitors can request the aid of technology to correct missed calls.
This won't mark the first time that MLB has turned to so-called "robot umps" at the Triple-A level. Last summer, the Pacific Coast League began using the automated ball-strike system. Colorado Rockies star outfielder Kris Bryant, a veteran who was on a rehab assignment and playing in the PCL at the time of the change, offered his feedback.
"I wish there was more of, you have to have X percentage of the ball that crosses the zone for it to be a strike," Bryant told The Athletic. "Because the ones that just nick the corner, that's the gray area. As a pitcher you're like, 'maybe it's a strike?' And as a hitter you're like, 'I don't know either.'"
In the past, MLB has experimented with the technology in lower levels, as well as satellite leagues, like the Atlantic League. (CBS Sports reported on the players' distaste for some of MLB's other experiments in the Atlantic League at the time, including pushing back the mound beyond its standard distance.)
It remains unclear if and when MLB intends to implement robot umpires at the big-league level. At minimum, it's fair to write that using them at Triple-A is as close as the league can get without clearing the final threshold.