White Sox Minor Keys: April 16, 2022

(Photo by Matt Dayhoff / Peoria Journal Star / USA TODAY Network)

When I was reviewing Lenyn Sosa’s plate appearances on Friday to see how his plate discipline had progressed, I’d noted that one of his walks started with an automatic ball, but it took me some time to actually notice it. Chattanooga’s broadcasters didn’t mention it as it happened, and I didn’t catch it the first time, either. I only went back to watch it again when Sosa took his base after the third pitch out of the zone, yet the on-screen count showed ball four and nobody on the field objected.

Sure enough, before the first pitch, the umpire stepped out and pointed to the mound (or past it).

And this was not a one-off episode. It turns out that Minor League Baseball is indeed really cracking down with regards to pace-of-play enforcement, and Friday was the first day of the schedule it took effect. Baseball America’s JJ Cooper wrote a timely story on the matter:

Last night, a new stricter enforcement of pitch clocks (14 seconds with bases empty and 18 seconds with runners on base) and rules that require hitters to remain in the batter’s box began to be enforced around the minors. And while it’s only day one of a season-long experiment, the results were dramatic.

On their first day of enforcement, the new rules appeared to cut more than 25 minutes from the average game time. […]

Last night, the average plate appearance took 2 minutes, 5 seconds. The Friday before, it took 2 minutes, 19 seconds. The average inning took nine minutes, down from 10 minutes, 51 seconds.

And suddenly, Seby Zavala’s seemingly random complaint on Friday night gained some context.

I had missed that Zavala got tossed from the game for spending too much time outside of the box on a 2-2 count in the ninth inning, resulting in an automatic strike three. It was the second such call against him that night.

Watching the at-bat, it looks like an ordinary sequence through four pitches. When he took a pitch, he stayed in the box, or barely strayed outside it. When he fouled off a pitch, he took a step out to regroup and readjust. The second foul was a big cut that had him take a hop across the plate, so it made sense that it required a little more time to reset.

The Knights then showed a replay that stuck with the center field camera, and the call looks even more capricious. Zavala indeed used more time than his first foul ball, but he also seemed to be in sync with the pitcher.

If the Redbird reliever were standing on the mound and waiting for Zavala to stop dawdling, then I think it’d be a lot easier to point the finger at the hitter for not reading the room. This kind of stringency is going to require hitters and pitchers to rewire their brains, and that’s not necessarily a figure of speech.

Charlotte 12, Memphis 5

  • Adam Haseley went 2-for-5.
  • Carlos Pérez, 2-for-4 with his fifth double.
  • Kade McClure had a rough reintroduction to Truist Field: 3.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 4 HR
  • Kyle Kubat, Andrew Perez and Tyler Johnson, though: 5.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K

Chattanooga 12, Birmingham 1

  • Yolbert Sánchez was 0-for-2 with three walks and a strikeout.
  • Lenyn Sosa went 1-for-4.
  • Yoelqui Céspedes was 1-for-3 with a walk.
  • Jose Rodriguez, 1-for-4 with a K.


*Infielder JJ Muno has now had to pitch twice this season, which isn’t what anybody wants.

Greensboro 10, Winston-Salem 5

  • Oscar Colás went 2-for-5 with a double and a strikeout.
  • Bryan Ramos, 2-for-4 with a double and a strikeout.
  • Luis Mieses went 1-for-5 with a K.
  • Adam Hackenburg struck out twice during an 0-for-5 night.
  • Harvin Mendoza was 1-for-5, but didn’t strike out.

Kannapolis 5, Down East 1 (Game 1, 7 innings)

  • James Beard went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts and his seventh stolen base.
  • Colson Montgomery was 1-for-4 with a double.
  • DJ Gladney went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
  • Wes Kath went 1-for-3 with a double and a strikeout.
  • Wilfred Veras, 1-for-2 with a double and a sac fly.
  • Johnny Ray had his strongest professional outing to date: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K

Down East 3, Kannapolis 2 (Game 2, 8 innings)

  • Colson Montgomery wore the collar, going 0-for-4.
  • So did Wilfred Veras, who struck out twice.
  • DJ Gladney went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.
  • Wes Kath struck out all three times up.
  • Brooks Gosswein: 3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K


*The doubleheader was scheduled, and both teams are off Easter Sunday.

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On the positive side, I assume they are trying these new rule changes in the minors to figure out the kinks and whether it’s worth it at all. I imagine the umps also have to recalibrate their visual cues to enforce in a way that doesn’t run into Zevala’s situation.