Dean continues chasing big league dreams

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Naugatuck native Pat Dean, 23, was named a Single-A all-star pitcher for the Fort Myers Miracle in Florida this season. -FORT MYERS MIRACLE

In his third professional season, Naugatuck native Pat Dean continues to progress — physically and mentally.

This year, the 23-year-old lefty earned an all-star selection for the Fort Myers (Fla.) Miracle, the Minnesota Twins’ Single-A affiliate. Dean was among the league leaders in innings pitched and has all but solidified a strong finish.

Dean won his last three starts as of press time Wednesday. Entering this week, Dean had a 9-8 record with a 4.09 ERA in 145 1/3 innings in 2012.

“I feel great and my body feels great,” said Dean, who expects to make at least one more appearance in Fort Myers before the team’s season ends next week.

Dean said he started the season on a positive note. He broke camp with the big league club and felt healthy.

During May, Dean went 4-0 with a 1.34 ERA and the entire Florida State League took notice. In early June, Dean was notified that he earned a spot in the league’s all-star game.

“I was surprised,” Dean said of the selection. “I really wasn’t expecting it.”

Since Dean pitched two days prior to the game, he was unable to make an appearance. However, he said the experience was still special.

“It was just cool to be in the dugout and be a part of it,” Dean said of the all-star game.

With typically four days between appearances, Dean said he takes plenty of time to study the game and talk with teammates about making adjustments. Dean lives with three of his teammates — all of whom make their living in the batter’s box instead of the rubber.

“I live with three hitters, so we talk a lot about approaches,” Dean said. “Each person that comes through this team brings a different aspect to the locker room.”

Dean said he spends a lot of time on his pitching mechanics. Recently, he’s been working on hitting the inside corner with more consistency.

“The hardest part is being able to repeat things,” Dean said.

A third-round pick out of Boston College, Dean said coaches have been monitoring his pitch count in recent starts. Dean has made 26 starts this season, six more than last season.

“It’s definitely a grind, especially in the Florida heat,” Dean said.

In the end, Dean is still his chasing the dream of making the big leagues. And that’s his motivation.

“I just always remind myself why I do it,” Dean said.