The Martinsville Astros of Martinsville, Virginia, played five years in the Appalachian League, where they served as the Advanced Rookie level affiliate of the Houston Astros. The team was born following the 1998 season, when the Martinsville Phillies shifted affiliation/ownership to Houston, and took on a new COTOB identity.
For an Appy League team, the Martinsville Astros’ branding elements were admirably creative while working within the confines of their parent club’s templates. When the team began, Houston was in the waning days of their navy and gold era. Martinsville followed suit, but they altered their parent club’s italicized gold star logo so that the star had two peaks–creating an M for Martinsville. When Houston switched to brick red and tan, with a non-italicized star logo, Martinsville opted to use a letter M for cap logo, stylized to match the looping, cursive script that their parent club favored at the time.
Considering that the team played only five years in the low minors, you might think that there were few big time major leaguers to pass through. If you thought that, you would be correct. The most notable alums are Wandy Rodríguez and Matt Albers. One interesting note about Rodríguez is that when he played for Martinsville, he was known as “Eny Cabreja.” This was because he had swapped identities with the real Eny Cabreja, and lied about his age when the Astros signed him as a teenager. The Cabreja baseball cards from this time list 1981 as his birth year rather than the true year (1979) that Wandy Rodríguez was born in. He resumed using his real name in 2002, a year after he was in Martinsville.
The end of the Martinsville Astros, and affiliated ball in Martinsville, came following the 2003 season, when Houston moved their team to Greeneville, Tennessee. The Greeneville Astros existed through the 2017 season, after which Houston sold the franchise to the Cincinnati Reds. The Greeneville Reds play in the Appy League to this day.