Followers of the Astros' minor league system can expect a few more late nights in 2015, if this rumor is correct:
This still sounds like speculation, but the candidates for the Astros' Triple-A affiliate are dwindling. Still, three days ago, the Merced Sun-Star ran an article saying that the Giants had essentially given the Fresno mayor a two-week window before they'd make their decision.
As for the Grizzlies, they pledged their commitment to the Giants at the same time as the Merced Sun-Star article.
The Grizzlies and Giants have been affiliated for seventeen years, which makes any breakup potentially ugly. When Chukchanski Park was built, it was not viewed favorably by the citizenry of Fresno, but having the Giants connection helped ease the blow. From the Sun-Star article:
Such an outcome probably would further roil the political waters at Fresno City Hall. Critics still haven't forgiven city officials for building a nearly $50 million baseball stadium, one deemed too big and too debt-ridden for the market. Losing the Giants' connection in a city full of Giants fans would only add more fuel to the fire.
With the Triple-A carousel spinning at full speed, the number of affiliates still in the air is getting smaller and smaller. Fresno would make some sense, as Chukchanski Park is just a three hour drive from another Astros' full-season stop, High-A Lancaster. And the fans' discontent with the team and the park could actually end up being a benefit if Jim Crane is looking for a team to buy. More likely, the PDC would simply allow the clock to run out before another Triple-A franchise (probably Round Rock) becomes available.
UPDATE: The Fresno Grizzlies Twitter account confirms multiple reports that the team will join Houston's top-rated system, with a press conference and release later this afternoon.
We're thrilled to reach an agreement with the @astros. Be ready to see the No. 1 farm system play at Chukchansi Park. Press release coming.— Fresno Grizzlies (@FresnoGrizzlies) September 18, 2014