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Automated strike zone coming to 'some ballparks' in minors next year, says Rob Manfred

The concept of an automated strike zone - or 'robot umpires' as they've come to be known - has gained momentum in recent years, and it appears that Major League Baseball's commissioner, Rob Manfred, will be expanding the system into the minor leagues in 2020.

Manfred spoke to MLB Network recently about this subject and expressed that the technology is in place, it's now a matter of implementation.

"I think we need to be ready to use an automated strike zone when the time is right," said Manfred. 

"That's why we experimented in the Atlantic League. It's why we went to the Arizona Fall League. It's why we're using it in Minor League Baseball next year, in some ballparks at least."

So far the early impressions of the automated strike zone have been mixed, with some folks willing to embrace baseball's robotic future, and others flat-out laughing at some of the calls that have resulted.

"I think it's incumbent upon us to see if we can get the system to the point we're comfortable it can work," Manfred continued. "I only would go to an automated strike zone when we were sure that it was absolutely the best it can be."

Some fans expressed their desire for an automated strike zone over the course of the 2019 World Series, where a number of borderline calls shaped the outcome of games and potentially the entire series.

While MLB is proceeding slowly and diligently with the roll-out process, robot umps appear to be more of an inevitability than a possibility for the future of the game.

"Technology, no matter how good it is, every once in a while, you're going to have a problem," said Manfred. "We're positive on the experiment and we're going to keep working on it."

The adoption of an automated strike zone won't happen on a big-league field at any point before 2021, when the current collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the MLB Players Association expires.

But as Manfred has shown over the course of his tenure as commissioner, he's not afraid to make changes in an effort to try and improve the game however he can.