Cochrane ball player Simon Baker has returned from West Palm Beach, Florida knowing what it feels like to stand in the shoes of a Major League Baseball (MLB) professional.
Other than doing school work, he ate, slept, and played ball for 10 days along with the rest of the U18 Canadian team against prospect squads from the American and National leagues.
"it was great," says Baker. "I kind of got to do what pro players do every day for six months. We just did it for 10 days, and it was a lot."
"On a standard day, we would wake up around 7:30 a.m., get on the bus about 8 a.m., and then head to the field. We practiced for about three hours, ate lunch, played a game, then went back to the hotel for dinner and school work."
The highly-regarded 16-year-old player, who's in grade 11 at Cochrane High, says that schedule suited him just fine. He aspires to continue playing ball at a post-secondary level in the States.
Here with the Webber Wildcats, he typically plays centre and pitches, but at spring training he was assigned to left field, something he found similar.
At one point, he was batting .400, and over nine games averaged an impressive .370.
Besides some intrasquad games, the Canadians played against prospects from the Tampa Bay Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals, New York Mets, and Houston Astros.
On the Baseball Canada website, Baker got a shout-out for singling against the Pittsburgh Pirates before making his way around the bases, collecting a stolen base, and scoring after a couple of wild pitches.
He's now back with the Wildcats and preparing for another high-calibre tournament, the Best in the West Invitational in Kamloops, May 3 to 7.
Baker should soon hear whether or not he made the roster for another Team Canada spring camp, this time in the Dominican Republic.
He says it would also involve playing some pro ball teams and continuing to develop their skills.
Last summer, he was part of Alberta's silver medal performance at the Canada Summer Games.
In the fall, he was invited to play in the Toronto Blue Jays Canadian Futures Showcase in Ottawa, designed to give exposure to Canada’s rising amateur talent with draft and college eligibility in front of MLB scouts and college recruiters.
In Florida, he says there was an even larger of scouts in attendance.