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MLB to test pitch-calling device for catchers

Sep 18, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA;  Kansas City Royals catcher Meibrys Viloria (72) checks his play chart wristband against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the ninth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Kansas City Royals catcher Meibrys Viloria (72) checks his play chart wristband against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the ninth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball will test an electronic pitch-calling device that will allow catchers to communicate with pitchers via a transmitter, ESPN reported.

The Single-A California League, which consists of eight teams, is expected to begin testing the device Aug. 3. It is not known how soon the device could find its way into MLB games.

The device, developed by PitchCom, is incorporated into a wristband. A catcher uses keys to signal which pitch to throw and the desired location. Pitchers would get the request on their own receiver.

While the device is being presented as a way to speed up the time it takes for catchers to send signals to pitchers, it also would prevent the stealing of signs.

The Houston Astros were caught stealing signs from opposing catchers through electronic means and signaling the upcoming pitch to their own hitters using a series of bangs on a trash can from a tunnel behind the dugout. The Astros were found to have used their system in 2019, the year they won the World Series.

The encryption system in the device can’t be hacked, according to the report.

The new pitch-calling system is one of a number of experiments being executed across the minor leagues, many designed to help speed up game time. Another experiment being conducted in the Cal League is a 15-second pitch clock.

Other in-game tests being conducted in the minor leagues include eliminating defensive shifts, prohibiting a pitcher from stepping off the rubber, increasing the size of bases and using an automated system that calls balls and strikes.

Related: MLB games today – Offseason Schedule

–Field Level Media