Pat Connaughton has spent the last couple of seasons with the Portland Trailblazers. However, that does not mean that the former Baltimore Orioles draft pick is done with baseball.
Over the years, there have been a dozen players to appear in both the NBA and MLB. Such notable players as Danny Ainge, Dave DeBusschere, Gene Conley, and Ron Reed were amongst that dozen. However, there has not been a player to be both a player in the NBA and MLB since Mark Hendrickson did so, playing his final basketball game in 1999.
A 13th player may be added to that list. Pat Connaughton had been drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the fourth round of the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft, and appeared for the Aberdeen IronBirds after signing. He produced a solid 2.51 ERA and a 1.116 WHiP, striking out ten batters against three walks in 14.1 innings. Connaughton headed back to college after the season, where he impressed on the hardwood for Notre Dame that year. This led to his being drafted in the second round of the NBA draft by the Portland Trailblazers, and his MLB career was put on hold.
That does not mean that Connaughton is done with baseball. In fact, the former Orioles righty is still considering a return to the diamond. As second round contracts, which last for three years, only have two guaranteed years. Connaughton has averaged under two points per game, and in his 73 games, has averaged just over six minutes per. It is understandable that he would consider switching vocations.
Just as Connaughton is interested in resurrecting his baseball career, the Orioles are interested n bringing back the righty. General manager Dan Duquette referenced Jeff Samardzija as an inspiration, as Samardzija bypassed an NFL career to pitch. Interestingly, Jeff’s brother, Sam, happens to be Connaughton’s agent.
His future may well depend on what the Trailblazers do this offseason. As a reserve, and one of the final players on the bench, Connaughton is fairly interchangeable in the NBA. Portland may well opt to go with a cheaper player, leaving him twisting in the winds of free agency.
If so, the Orioles will be waiting. Both Connaughton and Duquette feel that he would progress quickly through the minors if he pursued baseball once again, which may be an enticement. Of course, after three years away from the game, it would take some time for Connaughton to work his way back into baseball shape.