KBO Announces ‘KBO League-Team Korea Level-Up Project,’ a Comprehensive Plan to Strengthen Korean Baseball Competitiveness
Limiting defensive shifts and requiring pitchers to face a minimum of three batters, to be implemented in the KBO League in 2025
(Tokyo = Yonhap) Jun-hee Shin reports on the game between South Korea and China during the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) Group B Baseball Game 1 at Tokyo Dome on Wednesday.
South Korea’s Kim Ha-sung and other players leave the field after winning the game with a 22-2 cold game victory in the fifth inning.
SEOUL, March 13 (Yonhap) – The pitch clock and extra innings system currently in place in Major League Baseball (MLB) will be introduced to the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) as the national team’s full-time managerial system is revived in a bid to boost the international competitiveness of the sport, which has fallen to the bottom.
The KBO Secretariat announced on Tuesday the “KBO League-Team Korea Level Up Project,” a long-term comprehensive plan to simultaneously raise the level of play in the league and the strength of the national baseball team.
After receiving a disastrous report card from the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March, the KBO organized a task force and held in-depth discussions with nine external experts to establish a long-term strategic direction for Korean baseball.
The KBO League-Team Korea Level Up Project, which aims to strengthen the international competitiveness of Korean baseball, will be implemented in four directions: improving national team strength, improving the game system, developing prospects and coaches, and expanding the baseball base.
First, the KBO Secretariat has decided to implement a full-time managerial system to establish a long-term and consistent direction for the national team until the 2026 WBC. A full-time coach will also be appointed to assist the manager.
This seems to indicate that the KBO will not follow in the footsteps of this year’s WBC, where an active professional team manager was handed the reins of the national team and failed.
The KBO Secretariat will also continue to organize exhibition and exchange games against foreign teams to keep the national team on a full-time basis.
MLB’s pitch clock and extra innings will be introduced to the KBO in 2024.
The pitch clock, which strictly measures the intervals between pitches, was introduced this year and has had a significant effect on shortening the length of MLB games.
The KBO will install the pitch clock at all stadiums in the Futures (2nd Division) League and KBO League later this year. It will be implemented first in the Futures League next year, followed by a trial run in the KBO League, and then officially implemented as soon as possible, the KBO Secretariat said.
Extra innings, which has been in use in the Futures League since 2022, will be introduced to the KBO next season immediately. If the game is not decided in the regular innings (9 innings), the extra innings will be played in the 10th inning with runners on base to score runs.
The KBO will also consider increasing the size of the bases from 2024, the organization added.
A limit on defensive shifts, which MLB introduced this year to make baseball more dynamic, will also be applied in the Futures League starting next year.
The MLB office has limited the shift to require at least four defensive team fielders to be in the infield when the pitch is thrown, with two infielders on each side of second base. The KBO aims to introduce it in 2025.
Already in place in MLB and the WBC, the pitcher’s minimum three-hitter rule will be implemented in the Futures League in 2024 and the KBO in 2025.
The KBO also promised to take a long-term view on the introduction of an automated ball-and-strike system with robotic umpires to determine if and when it will eventually be implemented.
Finally, the KBO Secretariat is promoting the participation of prospects in the MLB Education League starting in 2024, and is also considering sending a joint team of commercial baseball teams and the 한국야동 KBO League to the Australian Professional Baseball League in the first and second halves.