The Triple-A team named after Nolan Ryan’s nick name “The Ryan Express” has been designated as the Texas Rangers affiliate starting with the upcoming 2011 season. The Round Rock Express play in the Pacific Coast League and have not had tremendous success of late, but that isn’t really indicative of the upcoming season because the organization has been flipped around. Previous to joining the Rangers, they were the affiliate of the Houston Astros, but switched to the Rangers after Ryan’s acquisition of the Major League ball club last season.
The Express play at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas just outside of Austin; it’s a fan friendly park and was featured as one of ESPN’s “Great Baseball Destinations”. The playing field dimensions are 330 feet down the left field line, 325 feet down the right field line, 375 feet to both power alleys, and 407 feet to the deepest point in center field. The wall surrounding the outfield is eight feet high.
Very little has been determined as to how the Express roster is going to be laid out. After recent roster moves, we know Eric Hurley, Zach Jackson and Chad Tracy should all be joining the team. Tanner Scheppers, a big-name prospect for the club, will be starting the season with Round Rock as well, the team decided on Monday morning.
The big club will be in Round Rock to face the Express in an exhibition game on March 30th; this game will be the team’s final tune up prior to opening day against the Boston Red Sox.
I am planning two separate trips to see the Express in the next 30 days and will report how the team looks at that point. I should be attending the Rangers/Express exhibition mentioned previously and another game between the Express and the Frisco Roughriders (the Rangers Double-A team).
Throughout the season, we will have updates from Round Rock and all the happenings at the Minor League levels, so make sure to check back throughout the season.