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April 12
1738 - Fr. Francisco Garcés born in Spain; came through SCV in 1776, found Tataviam fighting with Coastal Chumash, observed Santa Clara River flowing by night and dry by day despite the season being spring [story]
Garces statue


The dream of playing professional baseball was realized for three members of the California State University Baseball team.

Senior right-handed pitcher Lucas Braun and redshirt sophomore catcher Graysen Tarlow heard their names called at the 2023 MLB First-Year Player Draft, while junior right-handed pitcher Ryan Wentz agreed to a professional free-agent contract. Each capped a unique and unforgettable college career with the Matadors and will fulfill a lifelong dream of playing professionally.

Just days before they begin their respective journey into pro ball, each reflected on their baseball journeys and becoming professional baseball players.


Lucas Braun – Atlanta Braves

Lucas Braun vs. UCSD 5-5-23
A two-year letterwinner, Lucas Braun was picked in the sixth round of the 2023 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Atlanta Braves. Braun became just the second Matador in 16 seasons to be drafted in the sixth round or higher.

Braun, a Los Angeles native, transferred to CSUN in 2021 after beginning his collegiate career at the University of San Diego. Working his way from middle reliever to Friday starter, Braun collected two All-Big West Second Team selections with CSUN and posted 13 career wins. He also struck out a career-best 100 batters this past season.

GoMatadors: What went through your mind when the Braves drafted you in the sixth round?

Lucas Braun: It was pure joy and a ton of relief. It was like a giant weight was lifted off my shoulders because everything that I was doing the last two years since coming to CSUN was to get drafted. Having that moment finally come was pretty special.

GM: What can you take away from your college baseball career at CSUN?

LB: It’s crazy how much everything’s changed in two years. I started more middle relief and backend two years ago. I feel the moral of the story is to take advantage of the opportunities you’ve been given. When Trax (Blaine Traxel) got hurt up in Arizona, I started against Long Beach State and pitched really well. Then when Wentz, unfortunately, got hurt last year, I hopped into that starting role and put my head down and kept working. I think that’s really important to share because there could be guys that haven’t gotten playing time and don’t feel like they’re getting enough opportunities, but they are always one outing away or one at bat away.

GM: Who helped get you to where you are today?

LB: My parents. I wouldn’t be here without them. They pretty much forced me to play t-ball against my wishes when I was younger. I feel like Coach Serrano and Coach Cornejo, for giving me a shot and understanding who I am as a person on and off the field. I would also say, my girlfriend, Jordan, because she’s set me straight. Ever since I met her, my baseball has been really good.

GM: Looking ahead to the start of your professional career, what are you most excited about?

LB: All the new places that I’m going to visit. All the Braves’ minor league teams are in the southeastern part of the country. I’ve never really spent much time there so I’m excited to see what it’s like down there and what the baseball atmosphere is like.


Graysen Tarlow – St. Louis Cardinals

Graysen Tarlow vs. UCSD 5-7-23
An Orange native, Graysen Tarlow was selected on the final day of the 2023 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 19th round.

Tarlow spent the past three seasons with the Matadors and would battle back from injuries over his first two seasons to have a breakout 2023 campaign. He posted new career highs across the board offensively, hitting .311 with three home runs and 41 RBI. Tarlow also helped limit the opposing running game, throwing out nine would-be base stealers.

GM: What was that moment like when you heard your name at the draft?

GT: It kind of hit me more because I was looking at the MLB Draft Tracker. After I saw my name on the tracker it was a surreal moment. When I first got off the phone, my mom was screaming. My dad came in and he was super excited. My sister, her fiancé and my best friend were there. I was kind of shocked that it actually happened.

Throughout my life, I was never the biggest or the strongest – never the top-end player even in high school. When I got to CSUN, after my injury, I was still at the end of the depth chart. It made me super grateful and happy for all the hard work I put in through the adversity, and for everything that happened, I wouldn’t change it for anything than it was.

GM: Who helped you get to this point in your baseball career?

GT: I would say, I’m grateful for Eddie Cornejo because he was the one guy that gave me a shot to play Division I baseball. He challenged me every single day to be a better player and a better man in general. I am super grateful for him and all the other people that were integral in my life as a baseball player.

GM: What are you most looking forward to in the future?

GT: I’m excited to get out there and start swinging with a wood bat. I’m excited to face better pitching. I’m looking forward to meeting guys from all over the country and outside of the country on the international side. Being a catcher and having an opportunity to work with some of those guys from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, or Cuba and catching these guys who throw 100 [miles per hour] will be fun. I’m also excited to meet the catching coordinators out there and get affiliated with the team. I want to be open, be a sponge and be a student of the game.


Ryan Wentz – San Diego Padres

Ryan Wentz vs. CBU 4-3-23
Originally from West Covina, Ryan Wentz agreed to a free-agent deal with the San Diego Padres after the conclusion of the 2023 MLB Draft. Wentz spent the past three seasons with the Matadors, serving as a relief and starting pitcher.

This past season, Wentz would make a career-high 12 appearances and win three games. After being sidelined with an injury earlier in the season, Wentz went on to strike out a career-high 43 batters in 43 innings while limiting the opposition to a .239 batting average.

GM: What was your reaction to getting that call from the Padres and ultimately agreeing to a professional deal?

RW: A lot of excitement. This has been a dream since I was three years old when I started picking up a ball and seeing guys play on TV. It’s probably the same for everybody that plays college baseball, the dream of playing at the next level. For me, the cards lined up just right and I get to go do it.

GM: When you look back at your baseball journey, what do you most think about?

RW: Just going out there every day, competing with my teammates, and trying to get wins on the board. I know this season was a good season for us, and we fell a little bit short of the playoffs. This season was a really good one for me with the team aspect. I had a lot of fun with that.

GM: Who has helped you get to this point in your baseball journey?

RW: Obviously, my parents. They played big roles in keeping my head in it and not letting me get away from being me. They kept me solid through the bad times and the good times. My coaches at CSUN: Eddie, Elliot and Coach Serrano, when he was there, he helped out a lot. Also, Jeremy, Josh, Junior and Bobby, they’re all good dudes. My high school coach Darren Murphy, my travel ball coach Wallace Gonzalez and my agent Ethan Chapman, as well as my pitching coaches throughout the years, Ryan Halstead, Dom Johnson, Daniel Sandello and Steve Dye. All those names gave me the best opportunity to show my stuff.


Head Coach Eddie Cornejo on each Matador making the jump to the professional ranks.

“I’m very proud of our guys moving on to the next level. They deserve it and I’m happy they get to continue their career. They all were not highly touted recruits but made themselves into the players they are today.”

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