Dean back on course

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Naugatuck native Pat Dean is 7-9 with a 3.13 ERA so far this season for the Rochester Red Wings, the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. -BARE ANTOLOS/ROCHESTER RED WINGS
Naugatuck native Pat Dean is 7-9 with a 3.13 ERA so far this season for the Rochester Red Wings, the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. -BARE ANTOLOS/ROCHESTER RED WINGS

Naugatuck native Pat Dean is back in the driver’s seat and in the thick of a pennant race for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings of the International League.

The 2010 third round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins may have fallen off the radar following two lackluster seasons with the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats. Dean went 6-11 with a 4.68 ERA in 2013 and 8-9 with a 4.81 ERA in 2014. However, the cagey left-hander has put it all together this season for the Red Wings.

With the support of his family — parents Greg and Lisa Dean, brother John and fiancée Kate Watson — Dean is back on course in the journey through the minor leagues to the show.

Dean started this season with a bang.

By the end of April he was named the International League pitcher of the week.

By the end of May Dean had a solid 5-3 record and a microscopic 2.36 ERA. That surely had to get the phones ringing back in Minnesota.

Dean has continued to pitch effectively even after a tough June that saw him go 0-4, but his ERA never rose above 3.39. That 0-4 stretch included two tough losses, a seven-inning performance where he allowed two runs in a 3-1 loss to Charlotte and a six-inning effort where he allowed three runs in a 3-2 loss to Louisville.

Dean has continued to lower his ERA since the All-Star break. He went eight innings and allowed one run in a 1-0 loss to Lehigh Valley, followed by a seven-inning performance in a 4-2 win over Gwinnett.

On Tuesday Dean pitched eight innings and allowed two runs in a tough 2-1 loss to Toledo.

Dean’s 7-9 record doesn’t indicate how effective he’s been. His 3.13 ERA is the ninth best in the league.

After next year, Dean will be eligible for free-agency. He’s currently not on the Minnesota Twins 40-man roster, which makes him ineligible for a September call up when Major League rosters are expanded for the last month of the season.

“I haven’t heard anything about my free-agent status, but I’ve certainly pitched well enough to get into that conversation,” Dean said. “The only thing I can do on my part is to go out there every five days and to give my team the best possible shot to win the game. As far as the other stuff, it’s out of my hands so I try and keep it out of my mind.”

What is within his control is how he pitches every time he steps on the mound.

“We are in the middle of a pennant race and that makes it fun to come to the ball park,” Dean said. “It’s going to get crazy in another week or so. We have Scranton and Buffalo home and away during a 14-game stretch in the middle of August. That may decide the division right there. But either way I’m in a very good spot. I’m pitching well enough to keep my name in the conversation about my free-agent status next season. I’m in the middle of a pennant race, and the best part of all I get to put this uniform on everyday.”