Baseball, West Virginia

A Penn State baseball cap sits in the dugout during a game between Penn State and West Virginia at PNC Park, Wednesday, May 10, 2017, in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Last week, four Nittany Lions were selected in the 2021 MLB Draft, adding to the long list of Penn Staters who have been selected since the draft’s inception in 1965.

Since then, 61 former Nittany Lions have been selected to play professional baseball, and many more made the majors before the draft was established — including Hall of Famer John Ward.

Notable past Penn State draftees include pitcher David Aardsma and former Heisman trophy finalist D.J. Dozier, who spent time in both the NFL and MLB.

Before 2021, three players made up Penn State’s most recent draft class in 2019, which was the most from the school since 2012.The 2021 class, however, was the most since 2007.

Here’s a look at how the latest Nittany Lion draft class stacks up to some all-time classes.

2005

Penn State’s 2005 draft class included three players: Sean Stidfole, Josh Palm, and Mike Milliron.

Stidfole, a right-handed pitcher who was selected in the 14th round by the Blue Jays, led the Big Ten in strikeouts in his final year with Penn State.

The junior decided to forgo his senior season to sign with Toronto and left Penn State with the seventh-most strikeouts in a career for a Nittany Lion pitcher.

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The other right-handed pitcher to be taken out of Penn State in this class, Palm, was drafted for the second time in his career after opting not to sign with the Baltimore Orioles out of high school.

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound hurler was taken in the 16th round by the Washington Nationals and finished his senior season with the Nittany Lions with 37 strikeouts in 36.1 innings of work.

The lone hitter of the 2005 draft class was Milliron, who was the first position player from Penn State to be selected since 2001. He led the team with a .354 batting average in his final season.

Milliron was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the 30th round, finishing out his Penn State career in the top 10 in games played, at-bats, hits, doubles, runs scored and stolen bases.

2001

In 2001, three Nittany Lions were also selected: Chris Netwall, Rod Perry and Dan McCall.

Netwall and Perry were position players, making McCall the lone pitcher selected, who was also a product of State College Area High School.

The left-handed pitcher was selected in the 33rd round by the Philadelphia Phillies after holding opponents to a team-low .248 batting average in his final season. His numbers that year helped him earn his second All-Big Ten second team honor.

Also selected by the Phillies was outfielder Perry, a standout two-sport athlete who transferred from USC and Cal State Fullerton to compete for Penn State on the diamond and the gridiron for Joe Paterno.

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Perry was near the top of virtually every offensive category in his lone season with the Nittany Lions. He hit .328 in the leadoff spot and assembled a 12-game hitting streak, leading to his selection by Philadelphia in the 12th round.

The catcher Netwall was selected in the 13th round by the St. Louis Cardinals after putting together a storied Penn State career.

The senior captain was named a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award, which recognizes the best catchers in the country, after hitting .302 and throwing out nearly 50% of attempted base-stealers.

Netwall earned first team All-Big Ten honors in his final season, and he finished his career as a Nittany Lion in the top-5 for home runs, hits and RBIs.

2007

Among all of the classes of Penn Staters that were drafted into the MLB, there’s an argument to be made that the 2007 class was the best in program history.

The group tied a school record with five players drafted: Drew O’Neil, Scott Gaffney, Craig Clark, Matt Cavagnaro and Gary Amato.

As a draft-eligible sophomore, O’Neil had one of the best seasons as a relief pitcher in school history.

The right hander was drafted in the eighth round by the Cincinnati Reds after being named a first team All-Big Ten selection. O’Neil’s season featured a 19 and one-third scoreless-inning streak and holding Big Ten opponents to a .113 batting average.

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In Gaffney’s case, he made his mark for the Nittany Lions both at the plate and on the mound.

After starting his career as a third baseman and relief pitcher, Gaffney spent his last two years at Penn State as the starting shortstop and an occasional starting pitcher.

As a junior, Gaffney’s 3.76 ERA and .347 batting average against Big Ten opponents prompted the Cincinnati Reds to take him in the 12th round.

Clark, a pitcher taken by the Giants in the 14th round, finished his career at Penn State ranking in the top five in all-time starts, strikeouts and innings pitched.

His 2.77 ERA in his senior season led the team, and he started in two of Penn State’s five wins against nationally ranked opponents that season.

Cavagnaro finished his career as a Nittany Lion as one of the best two-way middle infielders in school history, contributing both at the plate and in the field.

The Pirates made Cavagnaro their 21st round pick after he hit .335 in his senior season and only committed five errors in his entire career.

Finally, Amato was also selected by the Pirates in the 48th round to finish off the class of Penn Staters.

The right-handed pitcher led the team in wins in the 2006 season and finished off his last year in Penn State by allowing just one run over his last three appearances.

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