Last summer, the Carolina Mudcats announced that they had extended their contracts with the Reds through the ’12 season.

But in a press release I received today from the Carolina PR department, they announce that in ’12, the Mudcats will move to the Carolina League and go from a AA franchise to an A+ one. They also say that the Reds AA franchise will move to Pensacola, Florida. There is nothing listed yet on either the Mudcats or the Reds websites.

UPDATE: There is now.

I found this online:

Pensacola Pelicans owner Quint Studer confirmed Thursday night that he’s getting closer to purchasing a Double-A franchise with the idea of eventually relocating it to Pensacola. Studer placed the certainty at “90 percent” that the area could have an affiliated team for the 2012 season.

“We’re real pleased,” Studer said. “I think we’re very close to acquiring a Double-A baseball team. We think that within the next two or three weeks we will have what we think is a very exciting announcement for the city of Pensacola.”

The team, which would supplant the independent league Pelicans, would be a franchise in the Southern League. Citing a confidentiality agreement, Studer could not specify which franchise he is currently in negotiations to purchase. The Southern League includes teams from nearby cities like Mobile, Montgomery and Birmingham.

I also found this online.

This seems to me to be a very good move by the Reds organization. After talking with a number of players, almost without exception, their biggest complaint about playing in Zebulon was that the travel was terrible. Zebulon was far beyond the edge of what is considered the normal geographic area of the Southern League, while Pensacola will be more centrally located, dramatically shortening road trips.

I have no idea of the stadium, playing conditions, etc in Pensacola, but it appears that this is a solid upgrade for the organization’s minor league operation.

Now, let’s hope they follow this up with another good move and do something positive about the High A team.