In an attempt to increase the pace of play at Double A and Triple A games, MiLB Tuesday announced new in-game features and procedures, including a timer to track the amount of seconds between pitches and the duration of pitching changes.
Pitchers will now be allowed only 20 seconds to begin either their wind up or the motion to come to the set position. If the duration is violated, the batter will be awarded a 'ball' in the ball-strike count.
If the pitcher feigns a pick-off move, or steps off the rubber when runners are on base, the timer will reset.
The breaks between innings will be limited to two minutes and 25 seconds, and batters are "encouraged to be in the batter's box and alert to the pitcher with 20 seconds left" on the timer, the release said.
Batters who fail to observe this can begin an at-bat down 0-1, and pitchers who do the same could start an at-bat down 1-0 in the count.
The breaks used for pitching changes will also be monitored via timer.
The rules will not be enforced in the month of April, the announcement said. The games during that month will serve as a grace period for players to become acclimatized to the new guidelines.
The new set of standards and practices comes as new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and others are tackling the issue of the slowness of baseball games in an effort to attract younger fans and bring excitement back to the game.
An average nine-inning game now lasts over three hours. That's up from two-and-a-half-hours three decades ago, according to ESPN.