On Friday, MLB released an update to the 2021 Minor League Baseball season. The 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so this season will be heavily needed for prospect development. The Houston Astros officially announced their Minor League teams for the upcoming season, although we have known the teams for the past month. A list of changes also came for the betterment of the players.
- salary increase of 38-72% for the ’21 season
- modernized facilities for the betterment of professional athletes
- reduced in-season traveling for players and coaches
- better geographical alignment
Where are the minor league teams for the Astros in 2021?
Asheville Tourists, Low-Single A
Although being Class A since the 1960s, MLB has moved away from this title and have named it Low-Single A. Along with the new title, Houston has now moved their system to the Asheville Tourists. This will be the first time the Astros will call Asheville one of their homes since 1993, after Houston moved on from the Tourists after 12 years together. The best Tourist in Astros history was Hall of Famer Craig Biggio. Houston says goodbye to the Quad Cities River Bandits after eight years together, who are now an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.
Fayetteville Woodpeckers, High-Single A
This is another league to have a name change from being Class-A Advanced. The Fayetteville Woodpeckers enter their third season with the Astros and are the second team from North Carolina; Asheville being the first.
Corpus Christi Hooks, Double-A
As the longest tenured Minor League team for Houston, the Corpus Christi Hooks will begin their 17th year as the Astros’ AA team. It makes the most sense to see a fan favorite stay in the system. While not having games or fans in 2020, Whataburger Field was home to the taxi-squad players and those working their way back to MLB.
Sugar Land Skeeters, Triple-A
This one came as a surprise but also a blessing that the Astros’ AAA affiliate will be less than an hour away from Minute Maid Park. The Sugar Land Skeeters have been a turn around for many players including former Astros pitcher Scott Kazmir, but also a place for former star athletes like Roger Clemens and Tracy McGrady to have their chance to play professional sports again. Houston will most likely keep their prime prospects in Sugar Land or Corpus Christi, as they are the two closest teams to the Astros. This will benefit the team in the long run with rehab assignments being closer and easier for players to travel back and forth. The Skeeters will compete against former Astros’ affiliates: Round Rock, Oklahoma City, El Paso and Albuquerque. Their opening series starts on April 8 at Reno and will have a 142-game season.
As of Mar. 2, the AAA season has been pushed back at least a month, and alternative training sites are returning.
Houston still has their Rookie League with the GCL Astros and the Foreign Rookie with the DSL Astros, but they have moved on from their Class A Short Season with the Tri-City ValleyCats, as the league is no longer a part of MiLB. The ValleyCats are now an independent organization. The AA and A leagues are set to begin May 4 with 120-game seasons.