Robot umpires already at the Sugar Land Space Cowboys baseball stadium may soon be heading to MLB parks

SUGAR LAND, Texas (KTRK) — Manager Mickey Storey says a minor league baseball game has become quiet play.

“There’s not that chirp of the dugout or the batter or the pitcher wondering if he’s getting had on a ball or a strike,” explained Storey, manager of the Triple-A Sugar Land Space Cowboys.

Barking at the umpire about balls and strikes would be useless practice, because the umpire making those calls has no ears.

“The strike zone is the strike zone now, and it brings a bit of consistency to the game,” admitted Sugar Land receiver Scott Manea.

As ABC13 reported earlier this year, the Automated Ball-Strike System (ABS), a home plate umpire robot, is now being used by the Astros’ top minor league affiliate in Sugar Land. The cameras positioned around Constellation Field are part of a Hawk-Eye system that tracks the pitch and the strike zone.

The call is then relayed, via a headset, to the human referee who remains on the spot to signal the ball or strike. The process is fast, consistent and contagious.

“I even checked with the referees to make sure it was working,” Storey recalled. “It’s pretty instantaneous. You don’t really notice any hiccups in the call.”

As a receiver and hitter, Manea handles the balls and hits both on offense and defense.

“I think it actually adds a kind of consistency to an approach,” Manea said. “So you know what’s going to be called a ball or a strike. But one thing from a catcher’s perspective is the value of the catch. Framing and getting limit pitches called strikes for your pitcher. That’s something that we as receivers work a lot on. So the Automated Ball Strike technology takes that advantage away.”

The players we see on the pitch at Triple-A are one step away from the Majors. Can the same be said of the robot referee?

“I don’t see how it wouldn’t be at least on the table,” Storey said. “At the end of the day, when we get the correct calls and can go to sleep at night knowing it’s the call – and we have evidence to back it up, why wouldn’t we want the right ones calls are made all the time?”

So the robot umpire could soon be heading to a Major League baseball stadium. And remember, if you complain about this call, he can’t hear you.

SEE ALSO: MLB recruits robotic umpire technical staff member to be embedded at Constellation Field in Sugar Land

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