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Columbia River grad Alex McGarry makes it official, signs with Cincinnati Reds

Recent Oregon State graduate achieves lifelong dream of being professional baseball player

By Tim Martinez, Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published: June 17, 2020, 6:39pm

Alex McGarry can set his anxiety aside. It’s now time to celebrate.

The 2016 Columbia River High School graduate fulfilled a lifelong dream Wednesday when he signed a professional baseball contract with the Cincinnati Reds.

“When news first started to break that this was close, I had people texting me to congratulate, which I appreciated,” McGarry said. “But I hadn’t signed anything yet, so it made me a little stressed.

“But now, I’m feeling a lot better. Only good things from here.”

The 2016 Columbian All-Region baseball player of the year at River, McGarry played one season at Tacoma Community College before transferring to Oregon State.

He redshirted the 2018 season at OSU before earning all-Pac-12 honors in 2019, hitting .293 with eight home runs and 29 RBI.

He was off to a strong start in 2020 — .288, three home runs and 13 RBI in 14 games — before the season was shut down by the COVID-19 coronavirus.

McGarry, who graduated last week with a degree in business administration, said it was his plan all along to leave Oregon State after the 2020 season.

“Early on, some draft boards had me being drafted between the eighth and 10th rounds,” McGarry said. “So I planned to play the season, get my degree at Oregon State and then make the move to the next level. And I wasn’t going to let COVID change that.”

Major League Baseball condensed the 2020 first-year player draft to five rounds and put a $20,000 signing bonus limit for undrafted free agents.

Still, McGarry, 22, said it was time to get his pro career started.

“I had three teams interested in me, but the Reds showed the most interest,” McGarry said. “And we had it put into the contract that the Reds would pay for me to pursue a master’s degree after my playing career is over. That’s one hell of a backup plan. So it sort of became a no-brainer after that.”

McGarry said he’s received no instruction from the Reds about what comes next. The Reds have Rookie League affiliates in Billings, Mont., Greeneville, Tenn., as well as Class A teams in Dayton, Ohio and Daytona, Fla.

“I don’t really expect to be playing baseball games this summer,” McGarry said. “The majors haven’t figured out what they are doing yet, so I don’t think there’s a lot of hope for the minors. Right now, I’m just stuck between boredom and trying to stay active, stay in shape, stay sharp.”

Back in Vancouver now, McGarry has found a group of collegiate players to join in summer workouts.

But while he was finishing up school in Corvallis, McGarry said he was able to hit off live pitching with some of his Oregon State teammates.

“That was a big help,” he said. “When you don’t see live pitching for a while, every fastball suddenly looks like it’s 110 (mph) and every curveball is nasty.”

Leaving Oregon State after playing barely more than one season for the Beavers — and two years of eligibility left — was not easy.

“I tell every kid who gets the chance to play at Oregon State to jump at it,” McGarry said. “It’s just a special community. Playing for the Beavers makes you like a local legend in Corvallis. People recognize you at the grocery store. The years at Oregon State were definitely the best in my life. And I’m grateful for everyone there who helped me along the way.

“My goal from the start of college was to get to play for Oregon State. So signing a pro contract is kind of like the icing on the cake.

Speaking of cake, the McGarry family has plenty to celebrate these days.

 “My parents have just been through-the-roof excited about all of this,” McGarry said of Steve and Kerry McGarry. “My mom is throwing me a graduation party, and the first thing she did was go out and buy 40 Cincinnati Reds caps so everyone at the party can wear one. It’s hilarious.”