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MLB's Experimental Rule Changes for 2019 Atlantic League Include Moving Mound Back, Banning Shifts

MLB has announced a partnership to test rule changes like banning the shift and moving the mound in the independent Atlantic League for 2019.

Major League Baseball will test several rule changes in the independent Atlantic League this season, including moving back the mound and banning the shift.

The leagues announced the experimental rules on Friday, all of which are related to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred's initiative to speed up the game, increase balls in play and improve viewing quality. 

The bases will be slightly larger, pitchers will be forced to face three batters or finish the inning, and time between innings and pitchings changes will be reduced by 20 seconds. A radar tracking system will also help the home plate umpire call balls and strikes.

The league will increase the distance to the mound for the second half of the season only.

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The Atlantic League, considered the country’s top independent league, is a destination for players hoping to work their way back to the major leagues. Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill, for example, pitched for the Long Island Ducks in 2015 before being signed by the Red Sox.

The Atlantic League has already adopted the extra-inning tiebreaker rule for 2019. The same tiebreaker rule—where each extra inning begins with a runner on second base—is also in effect in the affiliated minor leagues.

The Atlantic League season is set to start on April 25.