Out With the Old, In With the New
Round Rock Express take on Oklahoma City RedHawks
By Will Eidam,
3:44PM, Fri. Apr. 22, 2011
We all know it's always awkward seeing a past girlfriend/boyfriend. It never ends well … unless you run into your former fling while you have your arm around a much more attractive mate. That's how it feels as the Round Rock Express host the Oklahoma City RedHawks April 23-26 at the Dell.
For 11 years, the Houston Astros had called Round Rock “home.” That was until hall of famer and Round Rock Express owner Nolan Ryan joined a group that purchased the Texas Rangers. As a result, the two major league ball clubs swapped triple-A affiliates.
For Houston and Texas, the only effect this had on them was travel. For residents in the Oklahoma City and Austin areas, it means a lot more.
Houston’s farm system is depleted. It’s not even worth writing a “Know Your Enemy” post about. Other than pitcher Jordan Lyles* there’s not a real legitimate major league prospect in sight. Last year, when Round Rock was a part of the Houston system, plans to go to Express games were made when Lance Berkman made a few rehab appearances before getting off the DL and returning back to the majors.
* And even he’s struggled so far this year, posting a 7.07 ERA in his first two starts.
Texas’ farm system is different. It’s loaded. While Houston was busy in the 2000s spending ridiculous money on Roger Clemens and Carlos Lee, Texas was building from the ground up with a farm system that rivals the best in the league. The dividends are starting to come in.
Respected statistical website Fangraphs.com ranks Texas No. 5 for their crop of top prospects and it’s no wonder why. Pitchers like Tanner Scheppers, Zach Jackson, and Michael Kirkman will soon be big-league ready while most of Texas’ hitting talent is in double-A, soon ready to be promoted to Round Rock. Bottom line: There’s more reasons to attend an Express game this season other than just to check out Josh Hamilton's eventual rehab stint.
Having said that, this weekend will be fun to see a few familiar faces. I trust the Round Rock fans in attendance will welcome Jordan Lyles when he pitches in the series and giving a nice round of applause for left fielder Brian Bogusevic.
But if there is any applause, it’ll likely be followed by a sigh of relief when Express fans remember that this team is no longer theirs.
After all, they’ve upgraded with a hot new girlfriend.