Express Sign 10-Year Major League Baseball Professional Development License with Rangers
It’s baseball time in Round Rock! The Round Rock Express have officially accepted their invitation to become the new Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers after signing Major League Baseball’s Professional Development License (PDL) on Tuesday. The 10-year agreement will keep Rangers Triple-A baseball in Round Rock through the 2030 season.
“We are so excited to sign the PDL and formally accept the Texas Rangers invitation to become their new Triple-A affiliate,” Express President Chris Almendarez said. “We have an outstanding history with the Rangers organization and can’t wait to see the next wave of talent come through Round Rock.”
The Express are reuniting with the Rangers after spending eight seasons as the club’s top affiliate from 2011-2018. Round Rock was previously a member of the Houston Astros organization from 2019-2020. This offseason, Major League Baseball (MLB) restructured the Minor League Baseball (MiLB) system following the expiration of the Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) between the two entities last September.
Under the new PDL system, MLB will govern all aspects of MiLB moving forward. Back on December 9, each MLB club invited four minor league affiliates to join their farm systems. MiLB clubs were given a February 10 deadline to accept the terms of the PDL after receiving the governing documents in mid-January. Under the new PDL system, all affiliation agreements between MLB and MiLB clubs will be 10 years in length.
“Despite the uncertainty surrounding Minor League Baseball over the last several months, we are poised to enter the 2021 season stronger than ever,” Express General Manager Tim Jackson said. “We look forward to the long-term stability that the new PDL provides and are excited to continue to highlight Round Rock as the top market in MiLB. We are thrilled to reunite with Jon Daniels, Mike Daly and the rest of the Rangers front office staff that we enjoyed a great relationship with from 2011 to 2018.”
Round Rock’s first stint as Texas’ Triple-A affiliate came during one of the most successful periods in Rangers franchise history, as the club posted back-to-back World Series appearances during a span in which it advanced to the Postseason in five of seven seasons. During that time, Round Rock helped develop 43 Major Leaguers, including Hanser Alberto, Willie Calhoun, Delino DeShields, Ronald Guzman, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Leonys Martin, Nomar Mazara, Martin Perez, Drew Robinson and Tomas Telis. The Express advanced to the Pacific Coast League playoffs twice as a Rangers affiliate, first in 2011 before coming within a game of capturing the league title in 2015.
“The Texas Rangers are thrilled to have Round Rock as our Triple-A partner going forward,” Rangers Assistant General Manager Mike Daly said. “We have a wonderful history with the Express and strong relationships with their leadership group. We are fortunate future Rangers will play in front of great fans at Dell Diamond and be part of the Central Texas community on their way to Arlington.”
Under the new PDL structure, MiLB will feature 120 teams competing across four levels, Triple-A, Double-A, High-A and Low-A, a change from the previous structure that included 160 clubs competing across six levels. The Rangers farm system is rounded out by the Double-A Frisco (TX) RoughRiders, High-A Hickory (NC) Crawdads and Low-A Down East (Kinston, NC) Wood Ducks.
The 2021 campaign marks Round Rock’s 21st season of professional baseball in Central Texas. The club was founded as a Double-A franchise in 2000 by Ryan Sanders Baseball, now Ryan Sanders Sports & Entertainment, a group made up of Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, his sons Reid and Reese, Houston businessman Don Sanders and his sons, Bret and Brad. After five prosperous seasons as a member of the Double-A Texas League, the Express joined the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 2005, where the club has competed for the last 15 seasons.
Additional information regarding Round Rock’s 2021 schedule, league structure, coaching staff, roster and ticketing procedures will be announced in the near future.