Orioles pitching prospect Pat Connaughton taken in NBA draft

Orioles pitching prospect Pat Connaughton is all but certainly headed to the NBA.

The battle lines between the Orioles and Portland Trail Blazers were drawn late Thursday night, when 6-foot-5 Notre Dame shooting guard Pat Connaughton was taken in the second round of the NBA draft.

The rights to Connaughton, selected No. 41 overall by the Brooklyn Nets, were traded along with center Mason Plumlee to Portland for former Maryland guard Steve Blake and the rights to Arizona forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, according to ESPN.

Since Connaughton was taken in the fourth round of the 2014 Major League Baseball draft and received a reported $428,000 signing bonus, the future of the right-handed pitcher's baseball career in Baltimore has been widely speculated upon.

Considered among the top 10 propects in the Orioles' organization, Connaughton said in an interview Wednesday that he planned on pursuing a basketball career as long as he was drafted or signed as a free agent to an NBA summer-league team.

Connaughton said that if the Orioles recouped any of the signing bonus, they would lose their rights to him. As it stands now, the Orioles retain Connaughton’s rights for another five years. A source told The Baltimore Sun that the organization would try to recover the bonus money if Connaughton chose to play basketball. 

Once considered a marginal NBA draft prospect, in part because of his status as a major league prospect, Connaughton saw his stock improve during the NBA scouting combine in Chicago, where he had the highest vertical jump (44 inches) and showed his ability as a 3-point shooter.

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