Most 16-year-old athletes who want to pursue a professional career could only dream of the opportunity that Jake Burns has earned for himself.
The year 11 Woolooware High School student signed a deal with Major League Baseball club St. Louis late last month.
Burns, from Sylvania Waters, will remain in the US at the Cardinals' spring training complex in Florida for a few weeks ahead of an instructional league stint in the Dominican Republic.
He will return home in late November before reporting to spring training with St. Louis in March ahead of the 2020 season.
Burns, a catcher developed by the Giants Baseball Club in the shire, was delighted to take the first step on the road towards living his dream as a pro ball player.
"Being offered a professional baseball contract is a blessing in itself but having the opportunity to pick and choose based on personal preference is something that not many guys get to do," he said.
"There were a lot of things I had to weigh up while choosing which organisation I wanted to begin my professional career with but at the end of the day St. Louis gave me opportunities that no other organisations did.
"They made it clear from day one that they wanted me to be a Cardinal.
"[It's a] dream that became a reality for me with all of the hard work I have put in these last couple of years.
"I cannot wait to begin my professional career and start the real grind and the journey to the show."
Burns was a member of Team Australia's under-15 World Cup squad in 2018 and made the immediate jump into the under-18 team this year.
He came through Cronulla's Little League system and represented the charter at the 2015 Little League World Series and 2016 Junior League World Series before missing last year's Senior League World Series due to his World Cup commitments.
Burns has also represented NSW at three national championships and taken part in the MLB Showcase, 2018 Spring Training trip and this year's prospects program.
Baseball Australia performance pathways and athlete development general manager Glenn Williams said Burns' opportunity with St. Louis was the result of plenty of hard work.
"Jake's done a lot of great things already in a young baseball career... it's incredible to think he is still only 16," Williams said.
"He has worked really hard and committed himself daily to get better and I am really thrilled for him and his family.
"His family are some of the most committed baseball people I've met and I know Jake will enjoy sharing this moment with them. I'm excited about what the future holds for him."
Burns became the latest member of Team Australia's 2019 WBSC under-18 Baseball World Cup campaign to sign with an MLB organisation, following in the footsteps of teammates Chris Burke and Brandan Bidois who signed with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh respectively.