NORFOLK, VA (WTKR)- Could robot umpires be coming to Harbor Park for the upcoming baseball season?
Major League Baseball is taking its automated strike zone to the Triple-A level in 2022, the highest level of the minor leagues and one step away from the top of the game.
MLB's website posted a hiring notice seeking seasonal employees to operate the Automated Ball-Strike system. The league said it is recruiting employees to operate the system for the Albuquerque Isotopes, Charlotte Knights, El Paso Chihuahuas, Las Vegas Aviators, Oklahoma City Dodgers, Reno Aces, Round Rock Express, Sacramento River Cats, Salt Lake Bees, Sugar Land Skeeters and Tacoma Rainiers.
Not among those teams- the Norfolk Tides.
A spokesperson for Major League Baseball confirmed to News 3 that the automated ball-strike system (ABS) is coming to Triple-A parks this season, but details and specifics of the plan are still being finalized. The spokesperson also confirmed that just because the Tides were not among that initial list of teams in the report did not at all mean that we would not see ABS during Norfolk games this year.
The Tides did not have a comment when asked if robot umpires would impact them in 2022.
The independent Atlantic League became the first American professional league to let a computer call balls and strikes at its All-Star Game in July 2019 and experimented with ABS during the second half of that season. The system also was used in the Arizona Fall League for top prospects in 2019, drawing complaints of its calls on breaking balls.
Norfolk wrapped up its 2021 campaign with a 52-78 record. The Tides open their 2022 schedule on April 5, hosting Charlotte at Harbor Park.