Round Rock is officially Rangers' AAA affiliate

It's now official: The Rangers and Round Rock have signed a four-year agreement to make the Express the club's Triple-A affiliate.

Here is the official team release:

The Texas Rangers today announced that the organization has entered into a four-year Player Development Agreement with the Triple-A Round Rock Express of the Pacific Coast League extending through the 2014 season.

The agreement was announced this afternoon at a press conference at The Dell Diamond in Round Rock attended by Rangers President Nolan Ryan, Assistant General Manager Thad Levine, and Bench Coach Jackie Moore, who managed the Express as the Houston Astros Double-A and Triple-A affiliate from 2000-07.

The Rangers will be changing Triple-A affiliates for the first time since 1983 after a 28-year relationship with Oklahoma City.

“The Rangers are very happy to be entering this agreement with the Round Rock Express,” commented Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels. “Under the ownership and management of the Ryan Sanders Baseball, the Express have become one of the top affiliates in all the minor leagues. We look forward to a long and successful partnership.

“I would like to thank the Oklahoma City RedHawks for their assistance and support over the last 28 years. That franchise has served the Rangers well, and we wish Oklahoma City the very best in the future.”

“Our family was able to get into baseball ownership in 1998 because of the support of the people of Round Rock,” Express Baseball Owner and CEO Reid Ryan said. “More than a decade later, it is hard to believe that Nolan Ryan is the owner of Double-A, Triple-A and Major League teams. This is a reunion for Ryan Sanders Baseball, and it allows our families and baseball fans to continue what we started here in Round Rock in 1998.”

The Express began play in 2000 as the Double-A affiliate of the Houston Astros when the Ryan family purchased the franchise and moved it from Jackson, Miss. Round Rock enjoyed phenomenal success in its five-year Texas League affiliation, reaching the playoffs four times and winning the 2000 league title. In 2005, the Express joined the Pacific Coast League as the Astros Triple-A affiliate.

The Express open their 12th season on April 7, 2011, at The Dell Diamond, starting the season with four-game series against the Iowa Cubs and Omaha Royals.

Last month the Rangers extended their Player Development Contracts with the Double A Frisco RoughRiders of the Texas League for four years through the 2014 season and with the Low A Hickory Crawdads of the South Atlantic League and the Short Season A Spokane Indians of the Northwest League for two years each through 2012. Texas is in the process of securing its High A affiliate for 2011.