HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Astros' farm system is getting closer than before to the team's home base of Minute Maid Park.
On Friday, the club officially announced it has agreed to purchase a majority stake in the Sugar Land Skeeters and designate it as its Triple-A affiliate.
The Round Rock Express was the Triple-A farm team of the Astros last season.
The video above is on the first report of the Astros' deal with the Skeeters in November 2020.
This is an instant step up for the Skeeters, which have been in existence since 2010. The team, which calls Sugar Land's Constellation Field its home, has been playing as an unaffiliated, independent ball club in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.
According to the Skeeters, they are the first independent league team to become a Triple-A affiliate. They will play in the Pacific Coast League starting next season.
"This is an incredibly monumental day for our organization and the city of Sugar Land," said Skeeters owner Kevin Zlotnik in a statement. "We couldn't be more thrilled to partner with the Houston Astros and are immensely proud to be affiliated with their organization. To become the first-ever independent league team to make this kind of a jump speaks to Sugar Land and our fans for what we've been able to create at Constellation Field."
The Skeeters are no slouches. They have won championships twice already.
For the Astros, the Skeeters affiliation gives the team a more streamlined geographic path when it comes to call-ups. It wasn't too long ago that the team's top level minor league club was in Fresno, California. The Astros also hold minor league affiliations with the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks and the Single-A Woodpeckers of Fayetteville, North Carolina.
"We look forward to partnering with the City of Sugar Land's great leadership to reinvest into the ballpark to make it one of the best Triple-A facilities in the country," said Astros owner Jim Crane.
This past summer, the Skeeters announced the formation of the Constellation Energy League, which kicked off in July while the rest of the minor league was shut down due to the pandemic.
Several players were signed out of that league and on to major league rosters.
Earlier this month, CEL All-Star Jamie Westbrook signed a minor league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers.
According to the Skeeters website, Westbrook, 25, was the Sugar Land Lightning Sloths MVP after hitting .294/.347/.553 with seven doubles, five homers and 18 RBIs through 27 games.
He was tied for second in the league in RBIs and tied for third in doubles.