LANCASTER – The Boston Red Sox will send a farm team to Lancaster next summer, under an agreement signed by the Lancaster JetHawks minor league baseball team and one of professional sports’ most storied franchises. The JetHawks and Boston inked a two-year player development contract on the eve of the deadline, returning Boston to the California League for the first time since 1955, when it was in San Jose. “This is very exciting for the JetHawks and the Antelope Valley,” JetHawks owner Peter Carfagna said in an announcement from the team. “The Red Sox are one of the most popular teams in all of professional baseball and they have a national fan base.” The JetHawks had a six-year relationship with the Arizona Diamondbacks, which ended Thursday when Arizona agreed to terms with the Visalia Oaks. The JetHawks had pursued the Dodgers, who signed with Inland Empire on Thursday. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe joys and headaches of holiday travel: John Phillips “Their fan base is huge,” Seymour said. “The Red Sox nation is everywhere, and the opportunity to cross-promote is certainly there.” The Red Sox are Lancaster’s third affiliate since the franchise’s inception in 1996. The JetHawks were Seattle Mariners affiliates from 1996 to 2000. Lancaster made the playoffs three of the six years of its Arizona affiliation. Over the past three seasons, they sent some of baseball’s best prospects to Lancaster, including the Three Amigos (Conor Jackson, Carlos Quentin and Jamie D’Antona) in 2004, Stephen Drew in 2005 and Carlos Gonzalez this year. The Red Sox farm system was ranked No. 7 by Baseball America at the start of the season. Their advanced Class-A Wilmington (N.C.) affiliate in the Carolina League – the equivalent level to Lancaster – made the playoffs after winning a first-half title this year. “The Red Sox look forward to working with owner Pete Carfagna and his staff to bring a top-quality ballclub to Lancaster,” Boston farm director Mike Hazen said in a prepared statement. “Three of our six minor league farm clubs advanced to the postseason play in 2006 including our High-A team, and we will be working diligently to ensure continued success in 2007.” [email protected] (661) 267-7802160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Red Sox fans are considered among baseball’s most passionate, and their interest in Lancaster figures to give the franchise a much-needed boost. “I think it’s great that the Red Sox are getting a team in the California League,” said former Boston resident and lifelong Red Sox fan Greg Ball, a 29-year-old public relations consultant who works in the San Fernando Valley and lives in Santa Monica. “I’d definitely make the trip up to Lancaster to see some of the Sox’s up-and-coming stars & It will be almost as good as a trip to Fenway Park.” JetHawks general manager Brad Seymour won’t make any uniform, logo or name changes, but plans to capitalize on the Red Sox’s name recognition to market the franchise. He said the JetHawks ownership has received assurances that the Red Sox are committed to sending current and former players to Lancaster to build a relationship with the community.