Grizzlies make deal to land former Cardinals farmhand

Special to the News-DemocratMarch 19, 2014 

The Gateway Grizzlies have acquired former St. Louis Cardinals 2008 third-round draft selection Niko Vasquez in a trade with the Joliet Slammers.

The trade was for a player to be named later.

Vasquez, 25, will enter his seventh season in professional baseball during the 2014 season. After a successful high school career at Durango High School, the infielder from Las Vegas was the 91st overall selection in the 2008 MLB Draft.

"This helps fill a big void after losing Chris McClendon," Grizzlies manager Phil Warren said. "We brought him in to play third base every day. Niko has a great ethic and is polished. He still has that ultimate dream of being on the big stage and that's what fuels him."

Vasquez has played 603 professional games over the course of six seasons, including 218 at the High-A level. His best season came in 2008 when he batted .317 at Rookie Ball Johnson City. Vasquez, who plays third base, second base and shortstop, has hit 44 career home runs. He collected 12-plus in 2010 and 2011.

Vasquez reached Double-A Springfield in 2011 and 2012, combining to play 56 games at that level. As recent as 2011, he was considered to be a top-50 prospect in Redbirds system.

After being released, Vasquez played in 59 games with Joliet in 2013. He belted eight home runs and drove in 29 runs for the Slammers.

The Grizzlies 2014 regular season opener is May 16 when they take on the Traverse City Beach Bums at GCS Ballpark.

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