The St. Louis Cardinals rookie outfielder sat at his locker in the Busch Stadium clubhouse on Sunday afternoon and unpacked his gear. A few feet away were established big leaguers like Albert Pujols and Troy Glaus and now, for the first time in his career, he was a Major Leaguer, too.
"It's a dream come true," Barton said. "This is one of those things where you've seen where all the hard work over the years paid off and just never giving up. It's kind of one of those things where you hear a lot, 'Don't give up on your dreams,' but a lot of people don't really know the meaning of that until they actually see something that they've worked so hard for come true."
At one point before Sunday's workout at Busch Stadium, Barton stopped to snap a picture of his locker stall with the camera on his cell phone.
Even though his No. 54 Cardinals jersey was hanging there, the University of Miami product still couldn't quite believe it was all happening.
"I still feel like it's Spring Training," Barton said. "I'm really looking forward to tomorrow because I know tomorrow it's actually real. To me it still feels like a dream, and it's like I haven't woken up yet. I think I'm still in shock. I know I'm a big leaguer, but it's been such a long road that it's like, 'Am I really a big leaguer?' It's a surreal feeling I have right now. It's not one of those things I can explain."
Barton said his mother was supposed to arrive in St. Louis on Sunday evening. He couldn't wait to see her face on Opening Day, wearing his Cardinals jersey proudly and watching him from the stands.
"I know my mom's proud of me, but I can't really wait to see her face tomorrow when I'm actually on the field," Barton said.
Barton's long road to this point went through his childhood growing up in Los Angeles, then going undrafted after his days at Miami to working his way up the Minor League system of the Cleveland Indians before being selected by the Cardinals in the Rule 5 Draft in December.
"This is one of many goals and accomplishments I set out for myself in my life," Barton said. "I started playing when I was 6 years old. Pretty much 20 years later, I'm here. It was a long, hard road. I can say I'm proud that I never gave up, and my family can say that they are proud of me for never giving up."
Nate Latsch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.