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September 19, 2008 at 3:10 PM

Salem affiliation official

The Red Sox announced today the much-anticipated signing of a two-year Player Development Contract (PDC) with the Salem Avalanche. The new PDC will result in the team moving its Advanced Class-A minor league affiliation from Lancaster, California to Southwest Virginia. The Fenway Sports Group - the Red Sox corporate ownership group - purchased the Salem Avalanche franchise back in December 2007, and it has been speculated since that time that Boston would start its affiliation with Salem when the teams takes the field for the 2009 Carolina League season. Now that speculation is official.

"Salem is an ideal fit for the Boston Red Sox," said Red Sox Director of Player Development, Mike Hazen. "The playing surface is one of the best in the minor leagues, and the area's commitment to baseball has created a great environment for developing top-notch players, both on and off the field. We are committed to bringing championship-caliber baseball, and a team which the fans can take great pride in, to the Roanoke Valley."

The Sox' Advanced Class-A team spent its last two seasons on the west coast, affiliated with the Lancaster JetHawks of the California League. Boston has also been affiliated with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, Sarasota Red Sox, and Lynchburg Red Sox at that level since 1988. The Southwest Virginia area also has a history as a Boston affiliate - the Roanoke Red Sox played in the Piedmont League from 1943-1953. With the move, the Salem franchise ends its six-year affiliation with the Houston Astros.