Zachary Levine at Chron.com has a couple of articles discussing the Astros' AAA minor league afffiliation, as well as potential minor league ball in Sugarland. Since we discussed some of these issues in a previous article and related comments, the Levine articles can be viewed as perhaps an update on what we discussed there. The Chronicle article on a potential change in affiliation for Round Rock after 2010 probably doesn't have much which is new to you. As David pointed out in the TCB article, Levine brings up the fact that the Rangers' player development contract (PDC) with Oklahoma City expires at the same as the Astros' Round Rock PDC. Reid Ryan says he is forbidden by minor league rules from talking about potential affiliation with other teams, like his father's Rangers team. Ricky Bennett with the Astros says that the team would like to remain affiliated with Round Rock, but is prepared to change if necessary. However, Bennett doesn't seem to think it's a big deal if the Astros have to find another AAA affilate. Levine says that Oklahoma City seems like an obvious fit if Round Rock changes to Ranger affilation. However, Levine points out that a number of PDC agreements expire in even numbered years, which could spur a major shuffle, which I suppose means that the Astros could end up with another AAA location. (Isn't the Padres' PDC with San Antonio expiring in 2010? I think someone brought that up previously.)
The other Levine article discusses the possibility of minor league baseball in Sugar Land, beginning in 2012. This provides some new information on how that could affect--or rather won't affect--major league affiliation. The Astros have told the developers that they aren't interested in an Astros' minor league affiliate within the Houston metropolitan area. Also, the Astros have veto power over a minor league affiliate of another major league team locating in their area. As a result, the Sugar Land ballpark could become affiliated with an independent league. They are talking to the Atlantic League, and also could consider the American Association.