The rebranded Houston Astros made a successful American League debut last night, but bigger news lies ahead -- including a new spring-training location as well as the MiLB team that could be destined for the Houston suburbs.
The Houston Chronicle is incorrectly reporting that the Oklahoma City RedHawks (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) are Crane's target for purchase and relocation. The RedHawks are the Astros' current Triple-A affiliate, owned by Mandalay Baseball Properties, but it's the affiliation that would shift, not the actual franchise. Multiple sources tell us the Astros have been negotiating to buy the New Orleans Zephyrs (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), with a purchase price north of $20 million. In addition, the team's potential home would be somewhere in Montgomery County, not necessarily The Woodlands. It's no secret Montgomery County officials have been eying professional baseball; the county once had a development deal with Ventura Sports, which has ties to the independent American Association; county officials also talked new ballpark with reps from the independent Atlantic League.
Meanwhile, it appears the Astros have settled on Palm Beach County as the location for a new spring-training camp. The news: the Astros have been talking with the Toronto Blue Jays about being the second team at the complex, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. The Blue Jays braintrust have made no bones about desiring a better setup than they currently have in Dunedin. If Palm Beach County does indeed land the Astros and Blue Jays, it would provide a huge shot in the arm to spring training on the Treasure Coast: you certainly would not see the Cardinals or Marlins seek a move away from Jupiter, and the New York Mets would have a great selling point in their attempt to land a second team for the Port St. Lucie training complex. The timing is good for both the 'Stros and the Jays.
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