HOUSTON (KXAN) — The Houston Astros have officially reached an agreement to move its Triple-A affiliate to Sugar Land and away from the Round Rock Express, the club announced Friday.
The Round Rock Express fully intends on being a Major League Baseball affiliate next season, Express President Chris Almendarez said. While it’s not certain what MLB team will pick the Express up, the obvious move would be the Texas Rangers moving its affiliation from the Nashville Sounds back to Round Rock. The Express was the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate from 2011-18.
The Astros’ top Minor League Baseball affiliate is now the Sugar Land Skeeters, and will play games at Constellation Field in Sugar Land, about 22 miles from where the Astros play at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Sugar Land will be part of the Pacific Coast League.
The deal is expected to close by the end of the year, Astros officials said.
Almendarez released a lengthy statement Friday afternoon about this development:
“The Round Rock Express would like to thank the Houston Astros organization for 12 years of affiliation partnership, including the last two as the club’s Triple-A affiliate. Round Rock served as Houston’s Double-A club from our founding in 2000 through 2004 then transitioned to the Astros’ Triple-A affiliate from 2005-2010 and again from 2019-2020. During our momentous 20th season in 2019, the Express posted an 84-56 record and returned to the Pacific Coast League playoffs for the first time since 2015. With historic performances from the likes of Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, Jose Urquidy, Framber Valdez and many others, we were proud to provide the training ground for the next wave of Astros stars.
“Round Rock, Texas is the best Minor League Baseball city in America and we cannot wait to provide the exceptional gameday experience that Central Texas baseball fans have come to expect at Dell Diamond in 2021. We look forward to the conclusion of negotiations between Major and Minor League Baseball in the coming weeks and are excited to start our next chapter of Triple-A Baseball in Round Rock with a new affiliate. Additional information is expected to be announced soon.”
A growing trend among MLB franchises is owning their Minor League affiliates, and along with the move to Sugar Land, the Astros bought a majority ownership stake in the Skeeters organization. The club now owns its Advanced Single-A team in Fayetteville, Ark., its Double-A team in Corpus Christi, and now its Triple-A team.
The Express is owned by Ryan Sanders Baseball, made up of Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, his son Reid and Don Sanders.