LA CROSSE, Wis. -

Former Melrose-Mindoro and Viterbo standout Blake Shepherd is on the verge of playing professional baseball with the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League.

Shepherd reports to his new team on Monday. He signed his contract back on Christmas Eve and the Grizzlies added him to their roster at the start of the year.

"Kind of a dream come true I guess," said Shepherd. "Exciting to finally get that piece of paper, sign it, and keep the dream alive."

Since that big moment Shepherd has been working out and preparing for the opportunity.   

Putting in a lot of work is nothing new. Shepherd's dedication to the sport is a big reason why he sits in the top-five in many Viterbo career statistical categories, which includes home runs and RBI.

"There are no guarantees in professional baseball, it can be cutthroat at times so he's going to have to continue to prove himself," said Viterbo head coach Chad Miller.

"But if there is ever anybody deserving of an opportunity, it would be Blake just because of the amount of time he's put into the game, his commitment to the game the last four years."

Shepherd says the hope is to perform well with the Grizzlies and get noticed by MLB scouts.