Baseball America is reporting that the Fayetteville Woodpeckers will drop down from the Class A Advanced Carolina League, to be the Low-Class A affiliate for the Houston Astros. The move comes as part of a massive restructuring of Minor League Baseball. The Astros and Woodpeckers have not announced anything official yet.
The Woodpeckers are likely going to be replaced in the higher portion of Class A with the Asheville Tourists, Baseball America reports. Houston also has changed its Triple A affiliate from Round Rock (Texas) to Sugar Land (Texas). The Sugar Land Skeeters had been an independent team that did not have affiliation with a Major League Baseball team.
According to Baseball America, Fayetteville is moving from High A to Low A and Asheville will be the Astros' new High A affiliate. https://t.co/iBbbOSTsgd— Jake Kaplan (@jakemkaplan) December 9, 2020
The move is somewhat surprising, as Asheville has been in the lower Class A affiliation system for the Colorado Rockies, and the Woodpeckers are owned by their Major League affiliate, plus play in brand-new Segra Stadium.
As part of the massive restructuring, 11 teams around the country have been contracted from affiliated baseball. The Frederick Keys, who had been in the Carolina League with the Woodpeckers, were among those teams to lose affiliation. Major League Baseball has committed to having baseball of some type in all of those markets, however, mostly with summer league and other similar developmental league connections.
The circumstances leading up to the affiliation switches has been long and complicated, and Baseball America does a great job of breaking it all down here. But the summary version is that Major League Baseball felt it needed more control of the way its player development happened and used the end of its last contract with Minor League Baseball as a starting point to change the structure.
We’ll add more on this developing story, including who is expected to be in the new league with the Woodpeckers, as it develops.