The Round Rock Express and Houston Astros are going back to the way thing used to be.
The team announced at an event at Dell Dimond on Thursday night that Round Rock would once again become the Triple-A affiliate of the Astros on a four-year agreement and released new branding that better reflects the Houston logo and original Express uniforms.
"This is an incredible town," Astros President of Business Operations Reid Ryan said. "I always tell people that Round Rock is like the Green Bay of baseball. People here love their baseball. (The Express) will hopefully be an Astros club for as long as I'm around."
Round Rock served as Houston's minor league affiliate between 2000 when it was founded by Ryan Sanders Baseball, 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, and 2010.
The Express had been the Triple-A team for the Texas Rangers since 2011.
The new branding for the team has been given a more historic look, and the iconic "Lone Star" has been added to the logo. The team also returned to the original shade of navy blue and deep red as seen in the early 2000s.
The Express added two new alternate jerseys to the rotation in a white pinstripe and a navy two-button jersey with the "RR" logo on the chest. They also released a new logo commemorating the team's 20th season with the Astros' rainbow-inspired sky and the ‘Round Rock' the city was named for.
"Being in Central Texas, it's a great baseball atmosphere," Express President Chris Almendarez said. "Anybody would want to be affiliated with the state of Texas. I'm glad the Astros want to be with us and I think the relationship we have is going to be good for a very long time."
On the field, the team is expected to take a huge step forward.
The Triple-A affiliate of the Astros has had a winning record the last seven seasons in a row with three playoff appearances. The Fresno Grizzlies, who have been the top minor league team for Houston the last four years, won the PCL title in 2015 and advanced to the Championship this season.
In the eight seasons with the Rangers' organization, Round Rock has made the playoffs twice and finished with a winning record three times.
"Based on what we've seen at every level the last few years, we expect to be really competitive," Express general manager Tim Jackson said. "Reid told me that we may have five (pitchers) that throw 95 (MPH or faster) and that's not a normal thing. You might have to budget for playoffs and we're excited for that."
Houston Astros Executive Advisor and The Express' namesake Nolan Ryan was on hand at the beginning of the ceremony.
"We're going to be an Astros club here for hopefully as long as I'm around," Reid Ryan said.
The Express kick off their 20th anniversary season with at Dell Diamond on April 9 against the rival Nashville Sounds, the new Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers.
"This is going to be great for the Round Rock Express," Express CEO Reese Ryan said. "The Astros system is stacked. With all the success the Astros have had in the last few years and now to have that success coming here to Round Rock, it's going to be the best of both worlds."