Triple-A team slams the door -- with a successful ABS challenge

April 6th, 2024

Grant Holmes hooked the breaking ball into the corner of the strike zone.

The umpire didn’t think so.

Sandy León, Holmes’ catcher with Triple-A Gwinnett, had faith.

León used an Automated Ball-Strike (ABS) challenge, which showed the curveball touching the zone on the upper-outside edge. With a technological assist on getting the call right, the Braves-affiliated Stripers snuffed a ninth-inning rally to win it, 6-5, on Friday night.

In Triple-A and nine of the 10 Florida State League parks from Tuesday through Thursday, the home-plate umpire relays ball/strikes calls delivered from the ABS system via an earpiece. On Friday through Sunday, the umpire calls the pitches, but batters, pitchers and catchers can appeal the call. Each team is permitted three unsuccessful challenges per game.

On Friday night at Gwinnett’s Coolray Field, León’s challenge couldn’t have come with higher stakes – or better results – for the Stripers. The visiting Louisville Bats (Reds) had scored twice and put runners on the corners in the ninth, pulling within one run. On Holmes’ 1-2 offering to Michael Trautwein, the potential go-ahead run – Reds No. 16 prospect Rece Hinds – moved into scoring position on a stolen base as the ump called the pitch a ball.

That’s when León deployed the challenge and the ABS revealed the pitch was a strike. Correct call. Game over. The Stripers win.