By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
Naugatuck native Pat Dean’s baseball journey has taken him around the world and back again.
Dean, a left-handed pitcher, signed with the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball on March 9. The Somerset Patriots play in Bridgewater, N.J., and are one of eight teams in the independent league.
“It’s nice to be local again,” said Dean, who played the 2017 and 2018 seasons in South Korea. “This is a perfect place for me about 40 minutes from my house, so family and friends can come see me play for the first time in a long time.”
After pitching for Naugatuck High, Dean played at Boston College. The Minnesota Twins drafted him in the third round in 2010.
Dean spent six years with the Twins’ minor leagues affiliates. He compiled a 51-57 mark, including a 12-win season in 2015 when he helped lead the Rochester Red Wings — the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate — to playoffs with a 2.82 ERA.
That got the Naugy pitcher a shot with the Twins, and he made his Major League debut in 2016. Dean appeared in 19 games and went 1-6 record for Minnesota with 50 strikeouts in 67 innings of work.
Dean then went to Korea for two seasons to pitch for the Kia Tigers and helped the Tigers win the Korean League Baseball championship in 2017 with a sturdy 9-7 record. After 6-7 season with the Tigers in 2018, Dean resigned with the Twins last year but was released at the end of spring training last year.
Not willing to call it quits just yet, Dean signed with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the Atlantic League and showed he still had some game. In two starts for the Blue Crabs, Dean had a 0.82 ERA and struck out 17.
The Colorado Rockies signed the lefty, and Dean played for the Albuquerque Isotopes, Colorado’s Triple-A affiliate, in the Pacific Coast League. He was released at the end of the season and had free agent status, but the Blue Crabs still owned his rights in independent ball. The Patriots worked out a trade for Dean’s rights.
“A friend of mine, Logan Darnell, who came through the Twins organization with me spoke very highly of Somerset and put me in touch with the coach,” Dean said. “Things worked out, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to play here.”
“Hopefully something happens and I get picked up like I did last year and get another opportunity in affiliated ball again,” Dean added. “But for the time being it feels real good to be playing closer to home.”
The Atlantic League, like most other sports leagues, has suspended activity due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The league’s opening day was scheduled for April 30, but it’s unclear when the league will start the season.
“Right now with baseball shutdown I don’t know what to do with myself,” Dean said. “It’s a very strange time right now, but hopefully we can get back to a normal routine soon.”
Despite the uncertainty in the sports world, Dean is sure about continuing to live his dream.
“The arm is feeling pretty good, and I’m just trying to keep living out this dream and see how far I can take it.”