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Connor Burns Leads Trio of Long Beach State Dirtbags Selected in 2023 MLB Draft

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The 2023 Major League Baseball Draft concluded on Tuesday, and after all the names had been called there were three Long Beach State Dirtbags off the board. Catcher Connor Burns, first baseman Jonathon Long, and left-handed starter Graham Osman were all selected within the first 10 rounds of this year’s draft.

Burns was the first Long Beach player drafted, going in the 5th round to the Cincinnati Reds with the 141st overall pick. Burns, the two-time Big West Defensive Player of the Year, has been stellar behind the plate during his three seasons with the Dirtbags.

“It was a pretty surreal moment for sure,” said Burns on being drafted. “Seeing your name pop up there and hearing them say it and then seeing all the videos going off, it was almost like, ‘Is this really happening?’ It was unbelievable for a second and then it’s celebrating with the family and just being able to enjoy that moment was really cool. It’s something I’ve dreamed about for a long time and hopefully it’s just the first step of a really long career ahead.”

Burns is the first Long Beach State catcher to get drafted since 2017, when David Banuelos was also taken in the 5th round by the Seattle Mariners. Banuelos was also the reigning Big West Defensive Player of the Year and is currently in Double-A with the Minnesota Twins organization.

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Offensively, Burns took his game to the next level in 2023, and earned himself a nice chunk of money in the process. After hitting just over .160 in his first two seasons, Burns was a .307 hitter for the Dirtbags this past season, smacking 14 home runs and 50 RBIs while increasing his walk rate to post an impressive .374 on-base percentage. The Chino, Calif. native started 55 games for the Dirtbags in 2023 and led the team with a .608 slugging percentage.

Burns said he’s always felt comfortable with the Reds organization leading up to this year’s draft, and is excited to join an organization with a young, electric MLB roster. The Reds have been the talk of baseball this season as they lead the NL Central behind a youth movement of players like Elly De La Cruz, Matt McClain, Andrew Abbott, and Long Beach’s own Spencer Steer.

“They have all these young guys popping up there right now, so it’s really cool to say that hopefully I could be a part of that organization playing alongside those guys,” Burns said of joining the Reds. “Those guys are taking the game in their own hands and kind of making their own statements on it, which is really cool and hopefully I’ll be able to do that in the future with them as well.”

Staying with the NL Central, Long was taken by the Chicago Cubs in the 9th round of this year’s draft. He led the Dirtbags in nearly every offensive category, with a .312 average and an OPS of 1.004. The slugging junior hit 17 doubles, 15 home runs, and drove in 52 runs.

Osman heard his name called in Round 10, and he’ll be joining his battery mate in the Reds’ organization. The junior lefty transferred in from Arizona State and was an immediate contributor for the Dirtbags in the weekend rotation, making 15 starts with a 6-2 record and a 4.60 ERA. He struck out 89 batters in 78.1 innings pitched.

Burns said it would be nice to have a friendly face during his transition to pro ball, as both he and Osman could be on a similar development track upon signing with Cincinnati.

“I think it's gonna be pretty special to be able to do that,” said Burns of possibly remaining teammates with Osman. “In college you always joke around like, ‘It'd be cool to play with you’ and stuff like that, and then once he went to Cincy it was like ‘Oh, wow, that actually happened.’ It’s really cool, I feel like we won't be lonely out there and we’ll hopefully just continue that bond. From the get-go we’ll know what we're trying to do already as a pitcher and catcher, and we’ll be able to establish that relationship even stronger.”

Long Beach State has now had multiple players drafted for 22 consecutive years dating back to 2001. In that span, 35 of the 115 draftees (plus free-agent signing Bobby Cramer) have made it to the big leagues. 

The last time three Dirtbags were chosen in the first 10 rounds was back in 2010, with Jake Thompson (2nd), Devin Lohman (3rd), and Joey Terdoslavich (6th).

Tyler Hendrickson
Tyler Hendrickson was born and raised in Long Beach, and started covering sports in his hometown in 2010. After five years as a sportswriter, Tyler joined the athletic department at Long Beach State University in 2015. He spent more than four years in the athletic communications department, working primarily with the Dirtbags baseball program. Tyler also co-authored of The History of Long Beach Poly: Scholars & Champions.