The Reds have aligned with a new high Class A affiliate, signing a two-year player development contract with Bakersfield.

The agreement will run through the 2012 season.

Most recently the affiliate of the Rangers, the Bakersfield Blaze have a 70-year history as a charter member of the California League. Their home games are at Sam Lynn Ballpark.

Being a West Coast team, Bakersfield is a departure from the recent Reds Minor League affiliates, which were located in the midwest, south, or East Coast. The new affiliate will be the closest one to the Reds’ player development complex in Goodyear, Ariz.

Cincinnati’s Triple-A club is located in Louisville, Ky. The Double-A team is Carolina, and their other Class A team is in Dayton, Ohio.

A new high Class A affiliate was needed for the Reds after their one-year partnership with Lynchburg of the Carolina League ended. The Hillcats moved on to a new agreement with the Braves this fall.

Not much to say about this. I don’t know anything personally about Bakersfield, but haven’t heard anything good about it or the California League. Hopefully in two years they’ll move back into the Carolina or Florida State Leagues.