From South Bend to Baltimore
Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Although this picture is of Pat Connaughton playing basketball for the University of Notre Dame (see above), Connaughton is an accomplished pitcher for the Notre Dame Baseball team. The right-hander threw for the Fighting Irish the past three years. In that time, the junior posted a 3.03 with an 11-11 record in 30 games started.
Despite having to start his season late each year because he is still playing basketball for Notre Dame when baseball season begins, he still performs well each year. His best year of his collegiate career came in 2013, when he posted a 1.71 ERA and had a 4-2 record with the Irish. He capitalized his sophomore season by pitching six scoreless innings in the semifinals of the Big East Championship where Notre Dame defeated the Pittsburgh Panthers in extra innings.
Being able to watch Connaughton pitch over the past two years by attending school right across the road from Notre Dame, I could see his progress as a pitcher firsthand.
Connaughton has three pitches in his arsenal: the fastball, the knuckleball, and the curveball. His fastball is his most effective pitch, reaching speeds in the lower 90’s consistently and is able to break to either side of the plate. His curveball can be useful, yet his release point is off at times making it an inconsistent pitch.
Connaughton has the intangible stuff that scouts look for in a pitcher. He has confidence and uses a “bulldog” mentality while on the mound which can be a plus when faced with runners in scoring position. It has been noted by scouts that Connaughton has the “it” factor to be a good starting pitcher at the next level.
At the beginning of his junior season, Connaughton was ranked No.2 in the state of Indiana for starting pitchers by Baseball America. Also, he was ranked as the No. 22 RHP (No. 46 overall) prospect among draft-eligible players for 2014 MLB Draft and No. 34 by Baseball America.
However, after this past season, he has dropped off in the rankings among eligible prospects for the 2014 MLB Draft. In 2014, his ERA was a 3.94 which was the highest it has been during his time at Notre Dame. Also, he had his first losing record as a starting pitcher this past season with a 3-5 record in ten games started.
Currently, he is the No. 128 overall prospect going into this year’s draft. Will the Orioles snag this right-hander? Right now, the Orioles’ first pick in this year’s draft is No. 90 pick overall in the third round. The Orioles do not have a pick until the third round because they lost one pick for Ubaldo Jimenez, another for Nelson Cruz, and a third via a trade with the Astros for their ‘Competitive Balance’ pick.
The MLB Draft is not like the NBA Draft. The stars are not always the players picked No.1 and No.2 overall. Picking in the third round, it may seem like Baltimore will not get a solid player to some fans, but if Connaughton can slip through the cracks, he very well may end up packing his bags and heading to Baltimore.