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Angels ink development deal with Inland Empire

Angels ink development deal with Inland Empire

There's no question the Los Angeles Angels are a mainstay in the Class-A Advanced California League. Nearly a half-century of association with the Minor League circuit proves that. Who the Angels have been affiliated with, well, that's been subject to change.

The Angels announced on Thursday they had agreed to a two-year player development contract with the Inland Empire 66ers to be their new affiliate in the California League. Inland Empire becomes the Angels' eighth stop in the league.

"The Angels organization is excited to begin our relationship with the Inland Empire 66ers," Angels farm director Abe Flores said. "They have a first-rate ballpark and front office as well as passionate fans that continually support the club. It is our hope to cultivate a relationship with the City of San Bernardino and embrace fans throughout the Inland Empire."

Inland Empire was a Dodgers affiliate from 2007-10 (and previously when they were the San Bernardino Stampede from 1995-2000), but became available when the Dodgers signed an agreement with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. Prior to that, the Seattle Mariners had their California League home there from 2001-06 (and previously in 1990-92). The Quakes had been affiliated with the Angels since the 2001 season.

Inland Empire has won five California League championships (1995, '99, 2000, '03, '06) and has seen players like Ken Griffey Jr. and Felix Hernandez come through. Standout '10 rookies Carlos Santana and Kenley Jansen also played at Arrowhead Credit Union Park.

"We are very proud to be a part of such an outstanding organization with an excellent track record," said David Elmore, owner of the 66ers. "We know our fans will appreciate this great opportunity."

The Angels have their own track record of success in the Cal League, having won four titles over the years there, but none since the 1996 season.

The first 66ers season with its new parent club opens in San Bernardino on April 7, 2011. Inland Empire finished fifth out of 10 teams in the California League in attendance in 2010, averaging 2,561 fans per home date.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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