CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Three more Nittany Lions are heading to the Major Leagues, closing out the 2021 MLB draft after selections in the 17th and 18th rounds.
Junior third baseman, Justin Williams was taken in the 17th round, No. 508 overall by the Houston Astros. Williams made 86 career starts in 95 games as a Nittany Lion landing 96 career hits. As a freshman in 2019, Williams led the team with four home runs.
“Justin is a hard-working player with good power and arm strength. I believe Justin is just now beginning to realize his offensive potential. We are thrilled for Justin to realize his dream of a professional opportunity,” Head Coach Cooper said, in a press release.
The Oakland A’s used their 17th round pick to select senior pitcher Kyle Virbitsky No. 518 overall. Virbitsky is a Pa. native who is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and was a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar in 2021 after graduating in May with his degree in supply chain management and information systems. As a senior in 2021, Virbitsky collected five wins and struck out 88 in 77.2 innings.
“In my entire coaching career, I haven’t been around many individuals who love competition as much as Kyle. His progression from his first year to now is a testament to his dedication and work ethic. Congratulations to Kyle on being drafted and getting the opportunity to start his professional career,” Coach Cooper said.
And, senior pitcher Bailey Dees will head to the New York Yankees after being drafted in the 18th round, 543rd overall. Dees registered eight wins in the blue and white and struck out 176 batters in 175.1 innings. As a senior in 2021, Dees collected four wins and 51 strikeouts in 64 innings. He graduated in May with a degree in management.
“Since the day Bailey arrived in Happy Valley, he has worked extremely hard to improve his craft. I believe he is only beginning to scratch the surface of his talent and we are very excited to see him get an opportunity to sign a professional contract,” Coach Cooper said.
✅Most players drafted (4) since 2007 (5)— Penn State Baseball (@PennStateBASE) July 13, 2021
✅Most players drafted among PA schools
✅All three members of 2021 rotation selected
✅First time 3 pitchers selected in a draft since 2007#WeAre https://t.co/LT493fkUnB
Williams, Virbitsky and Dees join Conor Larkin who was drafted in the 9th round by the Toronto Blue Jays. These four Nittany Lions mark the third time in program history that four or more players were drafted in a single year—the last time this occurred was in 2007.
Penn State’s four selections were the second-most in the Big Ten, trailing Indiana who had six.
Sign up for the WTAJ Newsletter for the latest local news, weather, and community events that matter to you.