As most of you know the Astros new AAA affiliate this season will be the Oklahoma City Redhawks. The Astros have swapped AAA cities with the Texas Rangers, ending their eleven year relationship with Round Rock. The players will stay in their respective organizations but will play their home games in a new location. The move was prompted by Rangers President Nolan Ryan’s partial ownership of the Round Rock franchise. Oklahoma City and Round Rock both reside in the South Division of the American Conference of the Pacific Coast League. It looks like this could turn into a nice little rivalry. The move should broaden the Astros borders and create some new fans in Oklahoma. Older fans may remember that the Oklahoma City 89ers were the original AAA affiliate of Houston’s Major League franchise from 1962 to 1972.
The Redhawks will be managed this season by Tony DeFrancesco. A veteran of 16 years as a minor league manager in the Oakland Athletics organization, DeFrancesco has a career record of 1100-953. The 46 year-old skipper has managed the Sacramento River Cats to six division titles and three PCL championships in the last eight seasons. I like what the Astros have done here. Bringing in a proven winner to manage at the AAA level is a great idea. DeFrancesco rounds out a coaching staff that includes Burt Hooten and Keith Bodie. Hooten has been the pitching coach at Round Rock for the past six years and Bodie, the hitting instructor, has been in the Astros organization for three years.
The Astros will play an exhibition game against the Redhawks on Tuesday March 29. The game will be played at Redhawks Field and starts at 6:30 CDT. Oklahoma City will begin regular season PCL play on April 7 in Memphis against the St. Louis Cardinals farm team. The Redhawks home opener will take place on April 15 when they host the Albuquerque Isotopes (Dodgers). Don’t forget to file your taxes before heading off to the game.