By Landan Kuhlmann
The Sugar Land Skeeters announced Friday that they are the Houston Astros’ newest minor league affiliate, confirming multiple news reports from earlier in the week that they would be the local major league organization’s Triple-A affiliate beginning next year.
According to a news release from the Skeeters, the organization is the first independent league baseball team to ever become the Triple-A affiliate of an MLB team. The Skeeters will begin play in the Pacific Coast League for the 2021 season.
“This is a historic day for our city and community, being able to bring Triple-A baseball to Sugar Land and Fort Bend County,” Skeeters President Christopher Hill said in the release. “To be welcomed into the Astros family and get the chance to continue to showcase our beautiful ballpark and provide our fans with a first-class baseball experience is something we cherish.”
The Skeeters have played in the independent Atlantic League since the team’s inception in 2012, winning league titles in 2016 and 2018. Sugar Land also reached the championship series in 2014 and 2019.
The Skeeters said they will join Corpus Christi (Double-A) and Fayetteville (Single-A) as the Astros’ minor league affiliates, with the Astros holding majority ownership stakes in all affiliates.
The Skeeters’ shift comes amidst a changing landscape in minor league baseball, with MLB-affiliated leagues cancelling their 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic and many MLB teams expected to streamline their farm systems heading into the 2021 season. The Skeeters broke from the Atlantic League earlier this year to host their own four-team league at Constellation Field.