Pat Dean started his first full season in pro ball on a positive note. Now he wants to end it that way.
Dean plans to make three or four more starts for the Fort Myers Miracle, the Single-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins in the highly regarded Florida State League. His next start is scheduled for Friday and comes after two tough outings.
“I’ve had a couple bad outings and I’d like to end the season on a good note,” said Dean, a left-handed pitcher.
The Naugatuck native began the season in Beloit, Wis., and made a quick impression. In eight starts, he had a 2.86 ERA and a 2-0 record.
After being promoted to Fort Myers, Dean has had ups and downs. His upbeat demeanor and big-picture perspective continue to be assets.
“I’m on my way to living my dream,” Dean said. “But there’s a reason why I’m in high-A ball and not the big leagues.”
Dean, a third-round pick in last year’s draft, spoke about the series of adjustments he continues to make seemingly each day. The length of the season has been a constant challenge.
Rookie-level ball is a shorter season and typically there’s extra rest between starts and appearances. Dean is in the midst of a 144-game season, a significant difference from last year.
“My body is definitely feeling the difference of pitching once every five days,” Dean said.
Another change is the level of competition. The Florida State League offers many top prospects on each roster.
“I’m seeing a lot of players you’re going to see in the big leagues,” Dean said.
Facing that talent is a challenge. It requires Dean to mix his pitches and speed with precision.
He has a 2-5 record and a 6.70 ERA in nine starts in Fort Myers. In his first four starts, he gave up three earned runs or less.
The last five starts have been more difficult, and Dean is learning each time out what he needs to do going forward.
“I’m learning the hard way to call pitches and set up hitters,” Dean said. “Everybody here throws as hard as me or harder. I have to figure out new ways to get these guys out. I’m still working on it.”
Dean says he’s improving. He said his off-speed pitches have gotten better.
“My slider is becoming stronger,” Dean said. “I’m happy with my off-speed pitches.”
The season has also provided Dean with some unique experiences. He’s had the opportunity to interact with major leaguers Jim Thome, who hit his 600th big league home run this week, and Delmon Young.
And he also had a more personal experience earlier in the year when he faced his former Naugatuck Greyhound teammate Stephen Hiscock’s team, the Bowling Green Hot Rods of the Midwest League.
“It was great to see Steve and we were able to go out to dinner,” Dean said.
Dean’s outlook remains optimistic. As his second season in professional comes to a close, Dean believes he’s in a good position.
“I want to be able to look back on this season and take away all the good things and work on the other things,” Dean said.