Major League Baseball plans to use the automated strike zone to some degree in the minor leagues in 2020, according to The Athletic's Evan Drellich.
The league first tested a computerized strike zone in the Atlantic League over the second half of the 2019 season and added it to the Arizona Fall League. Commissioner Rob Manfred recently told Brian Kenny on MLB Network that the technology has improved and will move to select minor league stadiums.
"Here's our thinking on the automated strike zone: The technology exists. We have the technology," Manfred said, per The Athletic. "We're actually going through a big upgrade of that piece of our technology during this offseason. I think we need to be ready to use an automated strike zone when the time is right. It's why we’re using it in Minor League Baseball next year, in some ballparks at least."
"I think it's incumbent upon us to see if we can get the system to the point we're comfortable it can work," he added. "I only would go to an automated strike zone when we were sure that it was absolutely the best it can be. Getting out there too early with it and not having it work well, that'd be a big mistake."
When contacted by The Athletic, the commissioner's office did not provide details on how the technology has changed or how it will be added to MiLB. One reported option could be that automated strike zones may potentially be placed in the Florida State League, where team facilities also operate as major-league spring training sites.
It remains unclear if umpires would use the automated ball-strike system, ABS, as a guide or use it to make final calls.
Despite its testing in the minor leagues, MLB would have to take many steps before implementing ABS or robo-umps in the majors. Any decisions would have to be approved by the Players Association, whose current collective bargaining agreement with MLB runs through 2021.