June 18, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Just a few short weeks after hearing their names called in the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft, former University of Notre Dame baseball players Pat Connaughton and Donnie Hissa have signed professional contracts and reported to their respective rookie ball teams.
Connaughton, who was the 121st pick in the fourth round of the Baltimore Orioles, is in Florida and will play in the Gulf Coast League for the next six weeks before reporting back to Notre Dame July 30 to begin preparations for his senior basketball season.
As a junior, Connaughton showed an ability to be an innings eater as he hurled the first two complete games of his career in addition to going at least 6.2 innings in each of his final six starts. As a comparison, Connaughton went 6.2 innings or more just twice in his first 26 career outings.
Connaughton set career highs in innings pitched (9.0) and batters faced (35) in a win over Boston College April 12, and notched a career-high eight strikeouts in a tough late-game loss at then-No. 11 Miami April 21.
He finished the campaign with a 3-5 record and 3.92 ERA in a career-high 62.0 innings of work. Batters hit just .235 against him compared to .276 as a freshman and .272 as a sophomore.
His three-year career saw him go 11-11 with a solid 3.03 ERA in 30 starts (32 appearances) and 154.2 innings.
Hissa, meanwhile, was selected with the 626th pick in the 21st round by his home-state Milwaukee Brewers and is beginning his pro career with the Helena (Mont.) Brewers of the Pioneer League.
The Iron River, Wis., native showed improvement every year he was with the Irish, as he lowered his season ERA from 11.57 as a freshman to 5.27 as a sophomore to 5.22 as a junior and finally to 2.66 as a senior.
The righty had his best season during his final campaign as he showed the ability to be a long reliever, closer or a 1-2 inning guy in a team-high 31 appearances (T-5th in ACC as of June 18). He went 2-4 and picked up a team-high five saves. Hissa participated in three shutouts and was sixth on the Irish with 50.2 innings of work. With a fastball that can touch the mid-90’s, Hissa struck out 48 and held hitters to a .227 average.
After pitching a career-high 4.1 innings in a 4-3 win over Appalachian State March 2, Hissa eventually switched to the role of closer as the season went on. He picked up his first save of the season in a pressure-packed situation at then-No. 11 Miami April 20 before racking up four more over the season’s final month.
Hissa’s best weekend of his career might have come in his last appearance at Frank Eck Stadium as he tallied two saves and a win as the Irish swept Atlantic Coast Conference foe Pitt to close out the season in fine fashion.
The rookie-league Orioles begin their season June 20, while the Brewers opened the 2014 campaign June 16.
Stay tuned to UND.com, Facebook (/NDBaseball) and Twitter (@NDBaseball) as we follow Connaughton’s and Hissa’s journey through their first year in the pros.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director