Robot umpires at home plate moving up to Triple-A for 2022

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FILE - In this July 10, 2019, file photo, Ron Besaw, right, operates a laptop computer as home plate umpire Brian deBrauwere gets signals from radar with the ball and strikes calls during the fourth inning of the Atlantic League All-Star minor league baseball game in York, Pa. The Atlantic League announced Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, it is restoring its pitching mound to 60 feet, 6 inches from home plate and returning strike zone judgement to umpires after experimenting with moving the rubber back a foot and using an automatic ball-strike system. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

Robot umpires have been given a promotion and will be just one step from the major leagues this season.

Major League Baseball is expanding its automated strike zone experiment to Triple-A, the highest level of the minor leagues.

MLB’s website posted a hiring notice seeking seasonal employees to operate the Automated Ball and Strike system. MLB 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.

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. It also was used in the Arizona Fall League for top prospects in 2019, drawing complaints of its calls on breaking balls.

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