Former Columbia River High School star expects to sign with Reds

Oregon State’s Alex McGarry calls decision to turn pro a ‘no-brainer’

Alex McGarry’s dream of becoming a professional baseball player is coming true, even though he did not get there through the traditional route. 

McGarry, who graduated from Columbia River High School in 2016 and later excelled at Oregon State, is expected to sign with the Cincinnati Reds organization soon. 

“You kind of pinch yourself,” McGarry said. 

Alex McGarry, a 2016 graduate from Columbia River High School and a standout at Oregon State, is expected to sign a professional baseball contract with the Cincinnati Reds organization. Photo courtesy of McGarry
Alex McGarry, a 2016 graduate from Columbia River High School and a standout at Oregon State, is expected to sign a professional baseball contract with the Cincinnati Reds organization. Photo courtesy of McGarry

A friend of his called him a professional athlete.

“It sounds so weird to hear,’’ McGarry said. “It’s so exciting. So many people are happy for me who have been part of the journey. Just grateful. Grateful.”

Technically, he is still waiting to sign his contract, but McGarry said Tuesday that the Reds have congratulated him. Pretty much, just crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s, but it should be official later this week.

“For all intents and purposes, I’m a Red,” he said.

The delay in signing is yet another sign of these strange days of the pandemic.

McGarry earned first team, all-Pac-12 honors in his first season with the Beavers in 2019. He had a hot start to this year’s campaign before the season was cancelled. 

Major League Baseball also threw a changeup with its first-year player draft, making it only five rounds. 

That left hundreds of baseball players across the nation to look for their own deals with teams as undrafted free agents. 

“It’s more about getting started at the next level,” McGarry said. “With everything being so crazy, next year’s draft is going to be crazy as well. There are a lot of advantages in getting the foot in the door this year.”

McGarry could have returned to Oregon State — gaining this year back, he would have had two seasons of college eligibility. But he recently graduated from Oregon State with a degree in business administration. At 22, he was ready for the next challenge.

Signing bonuses for those who were not drafted this year were limited to $20,000. McGarry and his agent also negotiated tuition costs for McGarry to work toward his master’s degree. 

“That was a big part of it,” McGarry said of his decision to go pro. “That made the decision a no-brainer. The opportunity to get an MBA sets me up quite nicely, especially when someone else is paying for it.”

For now, though, the focus is baseball. He likely will play first base or outfield. 

“The Reds are really excited about me. They have a huge focus on player development. I built a really good relationship with them,” McGarry said. “Just a really good fit. They love me. I love them.”

In a normal year, McGarry would probably have already signed and left for minor league camp. Now, he does not know when he will report.

“In these crazy times, a lot of sitting around and waiting,” he said. “Looks like there is more of that coming up.”

For future reference, the Reds’ minor league affiliates include Dayton, Ohio (Single-A), Chattanooga, Tenn., (Double-A), and Louisville, Kent., (Triple-A).

“The ultimate goal is at 25, making it to the big leagues and hearing my name at Great American Ballpark,” McGarry said of the Reds’ home stadium.

He will be known as a former Oregon State Beaver, of course, but he is also a former Columbia River Chieftain.

“We’re super pumped for him,” Columbia River coach Stephen Donohue said.

Donohue remembers all the extra work McGarry put into his game. McGarry was that driven back in high school, too. Even this past winter, McGarry came back to Columbia River to hit with the younger players.

“A lot of our guys have seen his work ethic, and it has helped push them,” Donohue said. “Once he burst onto the scene at Oregon State, kids were kind of in awe of him a little bit, playing for the Beavers, seeing you can do it from our program. It’s cool for everybody.”

McGarry said he has stayed in touch with just about everybody from the 2016 squad. He has received so many texts from former teammates the past couple of days as word spread about his deal with the Reds. 

“It was at Columbia River when I said, ‘Hey, I can probably play at a very high level. I’m pretty good at this thing.’ The formative years at Columbia River impacted me in a big way,” McGarry said. “The Columbia River roots run deep for sure.”

After graduating high school, McGarry spent a year at Tacoma Community College before transferring to Oregon State. He did not play in 2018, then crushed it in his first year playing for the Beavers in 2019.