Balls are flying out of Triple-A ballparks like never before, coinciding with a switch in baseballs to the major league model.
The El Paso Chihuahuas have hit 89 home runs in their first 38 games – the most in professional baseball and more than half the 142 they slugged in 139 games last season. The Rochester Red Wings and Lehigh Valley IronPigs combined for 15 homers in a game last month. Overall, 26 of the 30 teams in the Pacific Coast League and International League are on pace to exceed their 2018 totals, most by a wide margin. The Isotopes are tied for fourth in the 16-team PCL with 62 home runs through 38 games, and are on pace to hit 185 homers, 31 more than last year.
Not coincidentally, this is the first year Triple-A has played with the same ball used in the majors. The big league ball is said to be harder, more tightly wound at its core and with slightly lower seams, all of which make it more aerodynamic than the ball used at the Double-A level and lower and previously in Triple-A.
Bigger offensive numbers were expected when Major League Baseball requested the highest level of the minor leagues switch to balls to more closely align with conditions in the big leagues.