It’s not a difficult question. Would players rather have a forty minute trip between AAA and the majors or a drive that could be done in about 7 hours? I’m sure that most players would opt for the shorter commute. Rather than commute, I’m sure most players would hope the excursion is a one time trip.
Fortunately for the future prospects in the MLB pipeline this scenario is a possibility. Early last season the team publicized their intentions to bring minor league baseball to the Houston area. No, not the recent product that has not been particularly pleasant to watch at Minute Maid Park. No I’m not discussing the team that Tracy McGrady is attempting to join. That’s right! Houston could be fortunate enough to feature THREE professional baseball teams. How exciting!
Currently the Astros AAA affiliate is the Oklahoma City Redhawks. The Player Development Contract is due to expire at the end of the Pacific Coast Leagues’ 2014 season which has stirred questions. Will the Astros re-sign? Or will they move to the Houston area with the goal of actually owning the affiliate? The Astros swiftly purchased their AA team, the Corpus Christi Hooks, when Reid Ryan came aboard last May. Many fans have asked why the Astros are not interested in being affiliated in the Austin area with the Round Rock Express. Unfortunately the Texas Rangers PDC there does not expire until the 2018 season. I am all but certain that the new front office will have a successful PDC in place long before the conclusion of the 2018 season.
There have been a couple of delays in the process. Jim Crane has recently implied that the process to move the Astros to The Woodlands has been put on the back burner. Still, I dream of the possibilities.
Jeff Luhnow has come in stating that the goal is to build homegrown talent. This can only be done through drafting players and developing them the right way. The scouting and analytic teams work tirelessly to ensure that the best player available will become a part of the plan. The development of homegrown talent can be a bit tricky as the casual fan most likely will not recognize rookie players. An affiliate to the Houston area would help fans familiarize themselves with future stars in the Astros pipeline as well as other teams throughout the Pacific Coast League.
Perhaps the dream is not as close as some fans would like. Texas is definitely becoming a great host for professional baseball. The historical Texas League still consists of four teams within the state. The 2014 season will see the brand spankin’ new El Paso Chihuahuas play as part of the San Diego Padres organization. That move from Tucson features another dose of geographical proximity. And of course most people are familiar with the Round Rock Express.
So friends near The Woodlands, anyone want to take me out to the ballgame?