Kiwi baseballer Elliot Johnstone is on his way to the big leagues.
The 22-year-old Auckland Tuatara and NZ Diamondbacks pitcher has put pen to paper on a contract with Major League Baseball's New York Mets.
Johnstone's outstanding play through the 2019/20 Australian Baseball League season put his name in the limelight, earning the Rookie of the Year award for his eye-catching numbers on the mound.
"I am very grateful to the New York Mets for the opportunity that they have given me and I will do everything I can to succeed," Johnstone says.
"It has been a life-long dream of mine to play professional baseball and it is surreal to think all these years of hard work have led to this moment."
Johnstone will become the third NZ player to sign with an MLB club, alongside ex-Tuatara pitcher Kyle Glogoski (Philadelphia Phillies) and Ben Thompson (Atlanta Braves).
The opportunity came through scout Conor Brooks, after he received a glowing endorsement of Johnstone's potential from former Mets player DJ Carrasco, who coached the Howick-Pakuranga-product at the Tuatara and national set-up.
"I think Elliot has a strong head on his shoulders," says Brooks. "He is a mature kid with a good physical build.
"He has somewhat of a unique delivery that creates deception and he has natural late life on all his pitches."
Johnstone will make his way to the United States this week to join one of the Mets' minor league affiliates, where he'll spend the next few months.
"I'll pretty much be getting straight into it, having some health checks, and from there I'll be working with some of their staff, throwing against some live hitters.
"They'll then put me into a team where they see that I'm best suited."