An offseason filled with twists and turns is finally getting a little clarity, as the Fayetteville Woodpeckers officially have a new league home with the Astros for the 2021 baseball season: The Low-A East League. The Class A affiliate of the Houston Astros will be part of the new Central Division of the league, in a move announced last week.
As we reported back in December, the Woodpeckers were moved from the Astros’ High Class A affiliation to the Low Class A East as part of a massive restructuring of the entire Minor League Baseball system. The Asheville Tourists replaced the Woodpeckers as the High Class A affiliate.
That switch, along with the realignment of all 140 teams in the minors, created an entirely new setup. The Woodpeckers won’t be in unfamiliar territory however, as two of their three division mates in their new league were previously in the Carolina League with them.
It's a 𝑫𝑶𝑵𝑬 𝑫𝑬𝑨𝑳. 🤝— Fayetteville Woodpeckers (@WoodpeckersNC) February 12, 2021
The Fayetteville Woodpeckers have signed Major League Baseball's new Professional Development License and will remain an affiliate of the @astros in 2021 and beyond.
MORE ▶️ https://t.co/zuz3jYCjcZ pic.twitter.com/zi9IDABJy0
The new Low-A East League (which will likely get a more official name with a corporate partnership in the future) is made up of 12 teams and is divided into three divisions. Fayetteville is part of the new Low-A East Central Division, with other North Carolina teams: the Carolina Mudcats, the Down East Wood Ducks, and the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers. In the Low-A East South Division, the Augusta GreenJackets are matched up with the Charleston RiverDogs, the Columbia FireFlies and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. The Low-A East North consists of the Delmarva Shorebirds, the Fredericksburg Nationals, the Lynchburg Hillcats and the Salem Red Sox.
Most of the changes won’t be noticeable on the field, as the Astros will still utilize the Woodpeckers as an important hub for developing premier players. But for fans of the Minor League Baseball structure, things will look a little different, as highlighted in the Woodpeckers Tweet below.
We will be part of the new Low-A East league and take on familiar faces and new foes: pic.twitter.com/i2hy82Q7na— Fayetteville Woodpeckers (@WoodpeckersNC) February 12, 2021
The start date for the 2021 season is still in question, as accommodations are having to be made at every level of baseball for COVID-19 protocols. The Major League Baseball season is currently expected to start on time at the beginning of April, with the minors likely coming along a month or so behind that.