CSUN Baseball Continues Impressive Streak with Draft Picks
When CSUN pitcher Conner O’Neil was selected by the New York Mets in the seventh round of June’s 2017 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, it marked the 13th consecutive year a Matador has been picked to join professional baseball’s ranks.
O’Neil, who holds CSUN’s all-time (29) and single-season (12) saves records, became the highest-drafted Matador since Craig Baker was selected in the fourth round in 2006.
Alumni joining O’Neil in the majors in recent years include:
2016:Kenny Rosenberg, pitcher
- Drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the eighth round.
- Led the Matadors with 118 strikeouts in 2016.
- Plays for Single-A Bowling Green Hot Rods.
2016: Branden Berry, first base
- Drafted by the Miami Marlins in the 33rd round.
- Led the Big West Conference with nine home runs in 2016.
- Played for the Gulf Coast League Marlins.
2015: Jerry Keel, pitcher
- Drafted by the San Diego Padres in the ninth round.
- Was a Freshman All-American and the Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year in 2012.
- Plays for Single A-Advanced Lake Elsinore Storm.
2014: Jordan Johnson, pitcher
- Drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the the 23rd round.
- Started 20 games for CSUN in three seasons.
- Plays for Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels. —P. A.
A Volleyball Family Affair
For CSUN senior Katie Sato, volleyball was her birthright. Sato’s father, Gary, was an assistant coach for the 1988 U.S. Men’s Volleyball team, which won the Olympic gold medal in Seoul, South Korea.
Her uncle Eric Sato played on the 1988 Olympic gold medal team, as well as the bronze medal-winning squad at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. Her aunt Liane Sato captured a bronze medal in volleyball in 1992, and another uncle, Glenn Sato, was an assistant coach for men’s volleyball at USC from 1990-96.
Her grandmother Elissa Sato was awarded the first Southern California Indoor Volleyball Hall of Fame Lifetime Service Award. Katie’s brother, Andrew Sato, is a volleyball student-athlete, playing for Long Beach State.
At CSUN, Katie, a kinesiology major, plays indoor volleyball at the libero position as well as beach volleyball. The Sato family has every reason to brag about their achievements, but they preach humility.
“It’s a thing we all have in common. We all support each other and understand everything, because everyone is an athlete,” Katie said.
With a good chunk of her family based in Santa Monica, the Satos often make the trip to support Katie during her games. In addition, the family frequently comes together during the holidays to bond by playing volleyball.
“They mean everything to me,” she said. “They are my main support system. I wouldn’t be anything without them. They push me to be better because I want to be like them.” —Michael Schena
Filpino Phenom Kobe Paras Joins
the Matador Family
The 2017-18 college basketball season doesn’t start until November, but the Matadome was already abuzz in late May as CSUN Men’s Basketball head coach Reggie Theus announced the signing of Kobe Paras.
Theus announced the agreement with Paras, who has a huge following within the local Filipino community after going to high school in Los Angeles, in front of a crowd of excited fans and news reporters. Paras spent one season at Creighton University, and he’ll be eligible to play for the Matadors in 2018-19 after sitting out a season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Get to Know Kobe:
- Born in Quezon City, Philippines.
- Appeared in 15 games for Creighton University.
- Has played for the Philippines National Team since 2013.
- His father, Benjie, had a famed professional career in the Philippines from 1989-2003.
- Has more than 500,000 Instagram followers.
- Played high school basketball at Cathedral High and Middlebrooks Academy in Los Angeles. —P. A.