Lawrence High product Garrett Cleavinger signs with Baltimore

Garrett Cleavinger, Oregon

Three weeks after his season ended at the University of Oregon, left-handed pitcher Garrett Cleavinger is back on a baseball field. Only this time, it’s as a professional player.

The former Lawrence High baseball star signed with the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday for a $500,000 signing bonus, according to Cleavinger was selected in the third round (No. 102 overall) of the Major League Baseball draft on June 9 and he will bypass his senior season at Oregon to begin his pro baseball career.

“It’s definitely exciting,” Cleavinger said. “Obviously, one of those things that’s kind of a lifelong dream growing up playing as a little kid. Now it’s taking it one step closer to that dream of playing in the Major Leagues.”

Cleavinger is currently in Sarasota, Florida, working out at the Orioles’ spring training site. He expects to be there for about the next week or two before he is assigned to a team in Baltimore’s minor league system.

The Orioles believe Cleavinger can rise quickly through the minor leagues to the Majors with his mid-90s fastball and strong breaking ball.

“We like the fact that he looks big and he is durable,” Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich said. “He has a fast arm. He has a good delivery already so that doesn’t really need to be remade. He already throws strikes. He has pretty good command. And he’s very good competitor. He has all of those ingredients in place.”

After Oregon’s season ended on May 31, following a loss at a NCAA Regional, Cleavinger has thrown a little bit, but mostly used the time off for rest. The minor league regular season concludes in the beginning of September.

His $500,000 signing bonus is slightly less than the $559,300 slot value that was assigned to the 102nd overall pick.

“It’s an exciting time. It’s fun,” Cleavinger said. “We’re working out every day. It’s nice getting back on the field and start getting back to work again.”

At Oregon, the 6-foot-1 Cleavinger set school records with 109 career appearances and the lowest opponent batting average (.165). He owned an 18-4 record in three seasons with 13 saves and a 1.94 earned-run average.

Has it hit Cleavinger that he’s beginning his pro baseball career?

“I think it’s still in the process of getting there,” he said. “It’s hard to realize at times. I think I’m still trying to get there.”

But now Cleavinger works out at a Major League facility and has the opportunity to put on the black, orange and white Orioles colors, pushing him a little bit closer to his dream of playing in the big leagues.

“It’s a little bit of a funny feeling but it’s definitely exciting,” Cleavinger said. “Kind of a new opportunity. A new chapter. So it’s been a fun time so far.”