Orioles pitching prospect Pat Connaughton has now been drafted twice in the span of two years, in two different sports. After a productive spring with the Notre Dame basketball team that made it into the Elite Eight, Connaughton got some attention for himself, enough to be picked at #41 overall by the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA Draft on Thursday night.
Connaughton was the Orioles' fourth round pick last season. When you end up as a fourth round pick, there's always a reason why, and in Connaughton's case it was because teams were aware that he would be finishing his basketball career at Notre Dame and that he might end up pursuing that sport instead. That's how you fall even though everybody loves a 6'5" right-handed pitcher. It was the O's who took a chance on him. It was definitely a chance.
Just because Connaughton was drafted, that doesn't mean he will surely pursue the NBA for years before possibly turning to MLB. The NBA draft is weird in that as soon as you get out of the first round pick no contracts are guaranteed. So as a second rounder, Connaughton is not even insured any kind of roster spot with Brooklyn or any other team.
The NBA draft is also weird in that within 15 minutes of getting drafted, Connaughton was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers. Among the other players in that trade is former Maryland player Steve Blake.
That's probably high enough that he'll at least find out if he makes it. If it turns out he can play there, then he might make his way onto the roster. Hanging out as a professional basketball player in Portland is undoubtedly just a bit more glamorous than grinding up through the state of Maryland towards Baltimore. Connaughton pitched 14.1 innings for Aberdeen last year.
Of course, Connaughton might end up in the NBA D-League instead - still a trifle closer to the NBA than Delmarva. I read back in the spring that he believed he'd at least take a stab at basketball as long as he would not have to go internationally to do so. That was a few months ago - he certainly might have changed his mind.
There was some noise that the O's might try to recoup part of Connaughton's signing bonus from last season if he sticks with basketball for good. That bonus was only $425,000, so it's not like we're talking significant money anyway.
Best of luck to Connaughton in whatever he ends up doing.