CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The Appalachian League and USA Baseball jointly announced the addition of experimental and modified rules for the Appalachian League’s inaugural season as a part of the Prospect Development Pipeline. Driven by Major League Baseball (MLB) and USA Baseball’s commitment to long-term overall athlete and arm safety, the updates include the addition of a re-entry rule, as well as modifications to the extra-innings rule.
Excluding select additions or modifications, the Appalachian League will follow the 2019 Official Baseball Rules as set by MLB and the Playing Rules Committee in cooperation with its mission for national team development and to prepare athletes for a career in professional baseball.
“Central to our mission as the national governing body for baseball in the United States is to develop strategies that will allow the game and its participants to grow,” said Eric Campbell, USA Baseball’s General Manager for National Teams. “In addition to adopting Pitch Smart guidelines into the Appalachian League, introducing a re-entry rule and modifying the extra-inning rule will support the development of the 400 athletes participating in the league in a new way. We are confident this direction will lead to positive results for the athletes now and in the future.”
“We are excited to work in collaboration with USA Baseball to implement new rules in a manner that protects the long-term interests of athletes while preserving the competitive integrity of the game,” said Appalachian League President Dan Moushon. “Opening Day is set for Thursday, June 3, and we are thrilled to be bringing baseball back to these ten communities.”
A summary of the rules introduced into the Appalachian League in 2021 are as follows:
RE-ENTRY: The re-entry rule is for the second half of the season (July 8 and later). Pitching: A pitcher who starts an inning and exceeds 25 pitches before recording three outs may be substituted for a relief pitcher to complete the inning. The pitcher who began the previous inning and was substituted out of the game will be allowed to re-enter to begin the subsequent inning. The pitcher who came on in relief will also be eligible to re-enter the game in the following inning. Any pitcher who re-enters a game may only do so in consecutive innings. Position Players: Position players may be allowed to re-enter a game as necessary due to injuries or if injury prevention is essential.
EXTRA-INNINGS: If the game is tied at the end of regulation the extra-inning rule will begin in the subsequent inning, placing runners on first and second with no outs. If the game remains tied after the first completed extra inning, the following inning will begin with the bases loaded and no outs. The game will end in a tie if a winner has not been determined after two full extra innings have been completed.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
About the new rules for the Appalachian League
USA BASEBALL DIRECTOR OF PLAYER DEVELOPMENT JIM KOERNER:
“It is our goal to make the Appalachian League a true developmental league and the re-entry rule for pitchers is a great example of how we are working to achieve this goal. We have seen this strategy used with success in Spring Training games in the past and we are confident we will see similar results this summer. This rule will allow us to give these players the experience and work they need to develop safely while maintaining a competitive and fun baseball environment for the fans.”
UCLA HEAD COACH AND APPALACHIAN LEAGUE STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBER JOHN SAVAGE:
“The new re-entry rule will allow pitchers to get consistent work while balancing their pitches per inning for each outing. This is a tremendous addition to a league focused on the development of young athletes.”
CATAWBA VALLEY COMMUNITY COLLEGE HEAD COACH AND APPALACHIAN LEAGUE SELECTION COMMITTEE MEMBER PAUL ROZELLE:
“Knowing that a pitcher will be managed properly is one of the biggest concerns surrounding summer baseball for coaches. It is comforting to know that the Appalachian League is doing its best to develop and care for these athletes. These rules will allow for the players to enter the league knowing they can solely focus on the areas in which they need to improve for their future because the Appalachian League is giving them an environment that is conducive to growth and arm health.”
BRISTOL STATE LINERS MANAGER DAVE TREMBLEY:
"Players improve by getting game experience and the new re-entry rule will allow coaches to create player development plans that will provide the opportunity to monitor pitch counts while allowing the player to stay on schedule. This is a win-win situation for the players and that is the most important consideration."
KINGSPORT MANAGER DAREN BROWN:
“The Appalachian League is laying the foundation to prioritize development and the protection of its athletes, and the re-entry rule will only afford players more safe opportunities to do so. Our goal in this league is to help these young players prepare for a long career in professional baseball and it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to help them avoid unforeseen injuries so that they may take advantage of this unique development experience.”
APPALACHIAN LEAGUE PITCHING COORDINATOR RAY BURRIS:
“For me, the re-entry rule gives credence to keeping a player healthy by not taxing his body and mind. Those who have played or been around the game of baseball their entire lives know that there will be times where a pitcher will experience long innings; however, it should not come at the expense of harming a pitcher. It is an important step for the Appalachian League to introduce the re-entry rule and reinforce itself as a development league first and foremost.”