Naugatuck native Pat Dean got an early Christmas present when the Minnesota Twins added the left-hander to their 40 man roster.
Dean, a 2010 third-round draft choice of the Twins out of Boston College, received the call he’s been waiting for last month from Rob Antony, the assistant to the Twins general manager
“He said, ‘I’m going to make your day,’” Dean recalled. “Obviously, I was excited to hear the news.
“He told me to get ready to go to spring training as a starter and if things work out don’t be surprised if you are added to the bullpen.”
It has been a whirlwind year for Dean. It began with his first stint of Winter Ball in the Dominican Republic followed by career highs in wins (12-11), ERA (2.82) and innings pitched (179) for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings. Dean’s year culminated with his wedding in November to his college sweetheart Katie Watson.
Dean still has one year left on his Minor League contract, but he’s not worrying about that. These days Dean doesn’t worry about a whole lot, even for a guy who is at the doorstep of Major League Baseball.
Not worrying has been the key to his success. Dean learned playing in the Dominican Republic not to put pressure on himself and his new wife has been telling him to just relax and enjoy the moment.
That has proved to be the secret as Dean flourished last season for Rochester. In the middle of a pennant race he was at his best. His new cool calm demeanor produced a 4-1 record with a stingy 1.21 ERA down the stretch.
Dean was preparing for another season of Winter Ball, but will wait until spring training to take the mound again.
“I was figuring on playing Winter Ball again this year but the Twins told me to just relax enjoy the time with your new wife and we will see you in spring training.
“After pitching 179 innings they probably want me to begin spring training with a fresh arm and healthy,” Dean said. “I’m not going to put any added pressure on myself. I’ve faced Major League hitters before in Winter Ball and in Triple-A. I plan on just building on what started last season.”
Statistics in baseball run the gamut. Some years are good and some are not. Dean’s numbers at Triple-A speak for themselves and he has certainly opened some eyes in the process.
There were signs early on that Dean had that special stuff that Major League Baseball dreams are made of. At 12 years old he threw a perfect no-hitter for St. Francis Grammar School in Naugatuck, striking out all 21 batters he faced. As a freshman for Naugatuck High, he threw a no-hitter against Woodland. In his senior year, he concluded his high school career throwing back-to-back no hitters.
Dean gained the attention of Major League Baseball at Boston College in 2009 when he led the Eagles to the NCAA Division I tournament for the first time in 42 years. Dean got the start at the Austin Regionals against Texas. He went seven innings in the longest college game ever played (25 innings). The Longhorns prevailed by a 3-2 margin.
The following year Dean was drafted by the Minnesota Twins and the last six years have been filled with highs and lows. But this spring the former Greyhound will step out onto the mound at the doorstep of every boy’s dream.