Dean learning on the job

Naugatuck native Pat Dean is 6-4 through 17 starts this season for the New Britain Rock Cats. -SCOTT BLANCHETTE

Naugatuck native Pat Dean is 6-4 through 17 starts this season for the New Britain Rock Cats. -SCOTT BLANCHETTE


NEW BRITAIN — In the midst of stadium negotiations in Hartford that propose a new 9,000-seat, $60 million home for the New Britain Rock Cats, the team continues to play during the summer months, rapidly approaching the Eastern League All-Star Break from July 15-16.

The Double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins stood at 44-44 through action Tuesday, holding down third place in the Eastern Division of the league.

One of the Rock Cats’ hurlers, Naugatuck native Pat Dean, has been a standout in the Eastern League this season. The 25-year-old left-hander is 6-4 through 17 starts for New Britain, with an ERA of 4.34.

Dean, who wears No. 15, has 57 strikeouts on the season to only 21 walks in his 17 starts.

After having started six games in Triple-A Rochester last season, Dean began this season back in New Britain, but feels that progress is being made with every game he pitches.

“I feel I’ve regained confidence in myself in what I’m doing, and I have a good approach to the game,” said Dean last week.

While in New Britain, Dean believes his game has improved physically and mentally, but there is work to be done if the parent club in Minnesota is ever going to call his name.

“The biggest thing is utilizing the inside of the plate. Not just throwing inside, but throwing for strikes on the inner part,” Dean said. “Hitters are quick and strong, so you have to work both sides of the plate and command your off-speed well.”

In his last outing July 5, Dean took a loss as he gave up four earned runs in six innings of work versus the Portland Seas Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. He gave up eight hits and had five strikeouts with two walks.

Dean’s next start is scheduled for Thursday versus the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.

When asked what he will need to improve to get to the majors, Dean stressed the idea of the mental game for a pitcher.

“I need a strong mental approach and to not let one outing ruin the next several. (Pitching coach Stu Cliburn) does a good job of keeping the staff loose,” said the lefty.

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