Rookie League Rules

Updated Saturday March 9, 2019 by Somerset Baseball League.


Fields – games are played on a 46/60 diamond; the pitching rubber is positioned 46 feet from home plate and base paths are 60 feet long. All regulation games are 5 innings in length.

Lineup – all rookie league teams will use a continuous batting order.  PLEASE have a lineup filled out prior to each game starting and have fielding assignments for each inning figured out prior to going out onto the field to help complete the game before sunset.  Both teams are allowed to utilize a fourth outfielder during game play with unlimited defensive substitutions.  Attempt to give all players experience at almost all positions.  Please use your most advanced players at first base for safety and your most capable player as the catcher and keep them in gear for multiple innings.

Pitchers – Beginning with the 1st game, players will be allowed to pitch the first inning and walks will be issued after four balls.  After three walks are recorded in an inning the pitching machine will be used.  The pitching machine will also be used for the remaining innings.  At the mid-point of the season, players will be allowed to pitch two to three innings (the same walk rule applies as previously mentioned) and the remaining innings will use the pitching machine.  A pitcher is given 5 warm-up pitches in between innings.  Before the first inning and anytime a new pitcher enters the game, 8 warm-up pitches will be allowed.   (During Kid pitch the coach for the team at bat will call balls and strikes)

Pitch limits – 50 pitch limit per week:  1-20 = 0 days rest     21-35 = 1 day rest     36+ = 2 days rest

Pitching Machine – During use of the pitching machine, three swinging strikes or five ‘good’ pitches will be considered an out.  There are no walks issued while using the pitching machine.  

Catchers – catchers who are on-base with 2 outs in an inning will be replaced with a pinch-runner (last batted out) to keep up the pace of the game.

Bunting– all rookie league players are permitted to bunt, however, each player is only allowed to bunt once per game and each team is only allowed to bunt once per inning.

Slash Bunting – is prohibited in all divisions of the Cal Ripken League. The batter will be declared out and all base runners will be returned to their last occupied base if a batter attempts to slash bunt.

Base Running - the batter and runners on base can advance on a ball that is hit into fair play up until the ball is thrown into to the pitcher’s mound area.  A player that has already rounded a base may advance while the ball is in the infield but risks being thrown out.  Base runners can not advance to another base if an infielder has committed to throwing the ball to the pitcher.

Leading – leading is prohibited in the rookie league. The runner is allowed to come off the base when the ball crosses home plate. The runner will be returned to the base if the runner leaves early.

Stealing – there is a limit of one steal per inning.  The runner may not steal until either the ball hits the ground or crosses home plate.  In addition to the one steal per inning, runners can advance on a passed ball as long as the ball gets outside of the catcher’s circle (there is a limit of once advance to home plate on a passed ball per inning.  After that the runner is locked down at third base).  

Must-Slide or Avoid Rule – a runner does not have to slide unless there is a play being made on that runner. If the runner does not slide and makes contact with the defensive player in possession of the ball or in the process of receiving the ball, then that runner will be declared out (the purpose of this rule is to avoid injury).

Infield Fly Rule – no infield fly rule in effect in the minor league.

Limited Runs – 3 run rule per inning with unlimited runs in the last inning.  Regular season games may end in a tie. 

Mercy Rule – 10 run rule after four innings.  Mercy rule also applies to any full inning after the fourth.

Absent Players – If a team does not have enough players they can be given an outfielder(s) (last out(s) from the last inning plays the outfield). If a player arrives late, then that late player is inserted into the bottom of the lineup.  If a team starts a game with less than 8 players, the game will be played with outfielders given from the other team; however, the game will be considered a forfeit.

Game Reports – all managers must post scores to the league website within 24 hours of game completion.  

Scorebook – all managers must give opposing team their lineup prior to the start of the game. Batting out of order is an out. Pitch counts are tracked by the coaches and are recorded in the scorebook.

Dugouts – home team has 1st base dugout and away team has 3rd base dugout.

Field Maintenance – home team should get bases and rakes from the shed and rake around home plate, pitcher’s mound and the bases if necessary…leave rakes outside dugout.  Away team MUST rake home plate, pitcher’s mound and bases after every game and return rakes and bases to the shed. 

Late Game – games scheduled to start at 5:45pm or earlier cannot begin a new inning 15 minutes prior to sunset (coaches will determine during pregame) or two hours after game start time.

Food – no food allowed in the dugout at any time during game play. 

Ejected Player – any player who throws a bat, helmet, glove, or any other object will be ejected from the game. A player ejected more than once from a game will be suspended from further competition as decided by the league director and SBL President.

Note: please reference Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth League, Inc. Baseball Rules and Regulations & Official Playing Rules for any rule not covered in this minor league rules section.

Updated 3/31/18


Rookie League Rules