Chukchansi Park (Photo by Richard Johnstone)
Well, that didn’t take long. One day after the Houston Astros lost their Triple-A affiliate, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, to the Los Angeles Dodgers, they have found a new partner: the Fresno Grizzlies.
Chukchanski Park is just three hours away from another Astros’ affiliate, the High-A Lancaster JetHawks. With another minor league team in California, the Astros system will be playing in a lot of late games on the West Coast these next couple years. The Grizzles had been affiliated with the San Francisco Giants for the last 17 seasons, but the Giants recently paired up with the Sacramento River Cats.
Chukchansi Park, which opened in 2002, is located in downtown Fresno and seats 12,500 fans. It has a deep centerfield (402 feet), but has normal dimensions down the left field line (324 feet) and right field line (335 feet). Fresno is in the PCL Northern division with Reno, Sacramento and Tacoma.
Since the Astros are expected to pair with the Round Rock Express for the 2019 season, I thought it would be a little more difficult to find a Class AAA franchise willing to agree on a short-term contract. Round Rock is owned in part by the family of Astros executives, Nolan and Reid Ryan, but has a PDC with the Rangers through 2018.
The RedHawks were the Astros affiliate for the last four years, but the deal with Fresno is expected to last through 2016, according to Adam Spolane of SportsRadio610. I’m happy the organization was able to find a home for such a talented level of their system. Although the late games aren’t exactly ideal, this is only a short-term solution until they can figure out a deal with the Rangers and Round Rock.