Triple-A to employ challenge system over full ABS for rest of season

June 18th, 2024
The Automated Ball Strike (ABS) camera in use during an El Paso Chihuahuas-Round Rock Express game.

Beginning on June 25, all Triple-A games will now use the automated ball-strike (ABS) challenge system for the remainder of the season. To this point in the Triple-A season, the challenge system has only been used for three games per week, with full ABS -- meaning automatic balls and strikes on every pitch -- being used for the other three. (Triple-A teams typically play six games per week.)

Per a memo Major League Baseball sent to farm directors on Tuesday, this change allows for more focused testing on the challenge system, which has become the preferred system over full ABS among both in-uniform personnel and fans.

In the ABS challenge system, the home-plate umpire calls balls and strikes as usual, and teams have a limited number of balls and strikes they can ask to be reviewed by the Hawk-Eye system in any given game. Teams retain the challenge if they are successful. (You can find a more complete explanation of the ABS challenge system here.)

In an effort to reduce the frequency of high-challenge games, the International League will also experiment with teams having two challenges instead of three, which had been the standard.

Back in May, Commissioner Rob Manfred said that the installment of the ABS system in the Majors would likely be delayed until at least 2026, citing “technical issues in terms of the operation of the system.”

Switching to the ABS challenge system on a full-time basis in Triple-A for the rest of this season will give MLB more time to test the system and work out any potential issues.