PHOENIX -- Trevor Bauer loves to play baseball.
So after his collegiate career ended in early June, it didn't take him long to pick up a baseball.
"When I'm not playing, it kind of eats at me," Bauer said.
It didn't take him long to start throwing again -- probably two weeks, he said -- and it didn't taken him long to sign his first Major League contract.
On Monday, Bauer and his family were at Chase Field as the D-backs announced the signing of the 2011 Golden Spikes Award winner.
The signing bonus was $3.4 million, a source told MLB.com. The guaranteed contract totals $4.4 million.
"I'm itching to get back out there," he said. "And I'm happy to have the opportunity to do that right now."
After following him since his teenage years in Southern California, the D-backs selected the UCLA junior right-hander with the third overall pick in the MLB First-Year Player Draft last month.
"This is a very exciting day for us, to welcome someone so accomplished in the amateur world who now takes the first step in his professional career," D-backs senior vice president of scouting and development Jerry Dipoto said.
At UCLA, Bauer was as dominant as they come in the collegiate ranks and became the first Bruins player to win the Golden Spikes Award, presented annually by USA Baseball to the nation's premier college player.
In three seasons, he became the school's record-holder in wins, strikeouts and innings, totaling a career mark of 34-8 with a 2.36 ERA and 460 strikeouts in 373 1/3 innings.
Last season, he went 13-2 with a 1.25 ERA and led the country with 203 strikeouts and 10 complete games.
"I'm definitely excited to get this part of the process taken care of and start the next phase, which is actually playing baseball, which is what I enjoy doing, so I'm pretty excited about that part," Bauer said.
The D-backs will send Bauer to High Class A Visalia, where he will start Saturday for the Rawhide against Stockton in his first professional start.
Dipoto said Bauer will throw two innings or around 40 pitches and won't come out of the bullpen.
"He's a starter," Dipoto said. "We're going to start off with a few shorter starts and reintroduce him to innings."
Bauer has been throwing two to three bullpen sessions a week, along with long toss and the use of weighted baseballs during his time away from the mound.
He spent four weeks in Houston at the Texas Baseball Ranch to better prepare for pitching in the Minors the rest of the season.
"It's something that I wanted to do, and this is something that I've been looking forward to," Bauer said.
The 20-year-old said that while he feels believes in his abilities enough that he could compete at the Major League level right now, he knows that the organization values performance over potential.
"Performance will dictate it all," Bauer said. "So it really depends on how I perform in the Minor Leagues, and I'm just trying to take it one day at a time and go out there to prepare and perform well."
Bauer threw 136 2/3 innings this season at UCLA, figures to throw around 35 Minor League innings this year and expects to throw 200-plus in the years to come given a clean bill of health.
"We're looking at this as an opportunity to build him towards 165-170 innings this year as we go through the rest of the season," Dipoto said.
"To answer the Major League opportunity or possibility question," Dipoto continued, "when you're as talented as Trevor is, anything's possible.
"We believe, obviously, that giving him a Major League contract right out of the chute that he's really close to being able to contribute at this level."
And Bauer has no reservations about moving through the D-backs Minor League system.
"I wouldn't want it any other way," the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder said. "I've always had to earn everything I've been given, so hopefully it stays the same from here on out, but I'd like to go out there and have a shot to prove that I can help this organization whether it be this year, next year or in the future."
And he said that his desire to get back onto the field was a driving force in getting his contract signed sooner rather than later.
"I wanted to sign as quickly as possible and get out and pitch," he said. "That's what they drafted me for and that's what I enjoy doing so it just seemed logical to get out there and pitch."
The D-backs have drafted pitchers in the first round in five of the past six years, including this year, with Bauer and No. 7 selection Archie Bradley, a right-hander out of Broken Arrow High School in Oklahoma.
"We are embarking on something new with this organization as we build a foundation of pitching," Dipoto said. "It's an exciting group of young guys, and we haven't even scratched the surface of what we're capable of."
Anthony Fenech is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.