HOUSTON -- The Astros have closed a transaction to buy a Minor League franchise in Fayetteville, N.C., of the Carolina League, where they will move their Class A Advanced affiliate starting next season, team president of business operations Reid Ryan said.
The Astros' franchise in the Carolina League, which doesn't yet have a name, will replace their affiliation with the Lancaster JetHawks, who recently announced a player development contract with the Rockies. The California League contracted franchises in High Desert and Bakersfield at the end of the season, and two new franchises were awarded in Fayetteville and Kinston, N.C.
The Rangers announced last month they had purchased controlling interest in the Kinston club and would begin play there next year at historic Grainger Stadium as the Carolina League expands to 10 teams. The Astros are in the process of finding a temporary facility in North Carolina to house their new franchise during the next two years until a new ballpark opens in downtown Fayetteville in 2019.
"We're well down that path right now working with the city's consultants on everything from a construction schedule, hiring of architects, negotiating the lease," Ryan said. "We're actively doing that right now as we speak. At the same time, we're looking around the state of North Carolina for temporary facilities where we could play for the 2017 and '18 seasons."
The Astros are trying to streamline their Minor League franchises to control movement of players more efficiently. They already own the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks and the Rookie League Greeneville Astros. In August, the Astros extended their player development contract with Triple-A Fresno through the 2018 season, after which the club is expected to return its Triple-A operation to Round Rock, whose agreement with the Rangers expires after '18.
Round Rock, founded by Ryan, began its affiliation with Texas following the 2010 season after an 11-year affiliation with the Astros, but Ryan has since joined Houston. His father, Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, returned to the Astros in '14 as executive advisor following a stint as CEO and president of the Rangers.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.