New Mexico native Eddy Vasquez thriving in leadoff role
FARMINGTON — After just a few games played by the Farmington Frackers, a fan favorite already has begun to emerge in the form of Eddy Vasquez.
As the smallest guy on the field at about 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds, fans seem drawn to the team's shortstop and leadoff hitter, rooting for a David going against many Goliaths.
And because he's very good at what he does.
Vasquez grabbed the fans' attention on the first at-bat of the club's existence, driving a ball over the right-field wall at Ricketts Park Thursday night. The solo shot took away any pressure the Frackers felt coming into the opener, other than the fact that the rest of the team was trying to match Vasquez by swinging for the fence the rest of the night.
"Everyone saw Eddy go long ball, so that's what they tried to do — hit the long ball," Frackers' coach Jared Holley said of Thursday's game.
Vasquez followed Thursday's performance with a four-for-four outing in the opener of Friday's doubleheader against the California Jays. And again, the rest of the Frackers followed Vasquez's lead, piling up 17 hits on the way to a 10-4 victory.
"My job is to set the tone for the team," Vasquez said. "As the leadoff, I'm supposed to set the tone and be a spark plug. That's what I'm there for and trying to do."
Through the Frackers' first three games of the season, Vasquez is six for 11 with three runs batted in and four runs scored.
Vasquez, a product of Rio Rancho High School, spent the last two seasons at New Mexico Junior College. He hit .306 in 53 games as a sophomore in 2017, but with his eligibility at NMJC done, Vasquez finds himself without a team for his final two years of college eligibility.
He came into the summer hoping a strong season with the Frackers might garner enough attention to land him on a college roster next season. The Frackers' coaching staff is aware of his situation and is working to get him with a club, and after just a few games against the Jays at Ricketts Park, the Jays' coaching staff has been talking to Vasquez about helping him find a team, as well.
Securing a spot in someone's lineup next season is at the top of Vasquez's list of goals for the summer, but he's not going to stress over where he might end up. He's going to keep playing the game he loves, try to keep the fans on the edge of their seat and embrace the dozens of young kids who swarm him when he walks off the field, calling, "Eddy. Eddy, can I have your autograph?"
"It's been fun. It's humbling. This is my first experience like this, and I really like it a lot," Vasquez said. "I don't want to get too ahead of myself. I want to stay relaxed."
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.