Get To Know: Red Wings LHP Pat Dean
Image courtesy of Bare Antolos/Rochester Red WingsOn the season, he is 10-11 despite a very good 3.06 ERA. In 162 innings, he has walked just 35 batters and struck out 94.
It was important for him to get off to a fast start because 2014 was a difficult, frustrating year for the southpaw. After going 3-2 with a 2.02 ERA in six starts in Rochester to end the 2013 season, the Connecticut native went back to New Britain to start the 2014 season. He spent the full season there and went 8-9 with a 4.81 ERA in 26 starts with a 1.55 WHIP.
“Last year was a tough one for me. Mentally, it wore me down. I had high expectations for myself and when I struggled early, I continued to put a lot of pressure on myself. I quickly found myself in a hole I couldn’t figure out how to get back out of. I lost confidence in myself and that was the worst part.”
After taking a little bit of time off following the season, Pat Dean played some winter ball in the Dominican Republic for the first time. The experience was important to him and his career.
“I went and played winter ball and pretty much hit the reset button. I did my best not to worry about results and only focused on some things I wanted to work on from a mental and mechanical stand point. I think that helped tremendously. I also was able to talk to some older players and pick their brains on how they had success. I definitely learned a lot down there.”
On and off the baseball field, the whole Dominican experience was something he enjoyed.
“My experience in the Dominican this winter was a great one. The Gigantes took great care of me. The talent level of the league was great, and it helped me learn a lot about myself. Playing against experienced guys and talking to experienced guys created a great learning environment for me. I learned a lot about reading hitters and setting them up, and how to utilize my strengths. Most of all, it helped me prove to myself that I can pitch at a high level and to use last season as a learning experience and put the negative results behind me.”
He continued to learn once he came back home from the Dominican Republic.
“When I got back to New Jersey, I worked with my boss where I give pitching lessons, and he helped me tighten up my curve and slider. Last year’s struggles were tough, but I feel they made me stronger and smarter.”
That brings us to 2015, a new start for Dean. He came back to Ft. Myers for spring training having learned a lot and feeling better about baseball, pitching and his perspective.
“Coming in to this season, I tried not to put any pressure on myself, especially with things out of my control. My thought-process in spring training was to be happy to have a jersey and to take advantage of every day I had one. I was fully prepared to be a bullpen guy. I knew I hadn’t earned anything and was just planning on taking advantage of any role the Twins wanted to put me in.”
With Trevor May summoned to Minnesota before the season started, Dean found himself back in the rotation, back in Rochester for the first time since six starts in 2013.
He responded very well. In his first three starts, he worked 20 innings and gave up just two runs while striking out 22 batters. He has thrown three complete game shutouts. He has completed six innings 19 times in 25 starts. In one start, the game was postponed by rain after two innings. He has only not gone five innings one other time.
Dean is a left-hander who knows himself well as a pitcher. He knows what he needs to do to be successful. He throws both a four-seam and a two-seam fastball, as well as a curve ball, a slider and a change up.
Knowing that he doesn’t throw hard enough to blow fastballs by hitters, he has to mix and match to be effective. He also knows that he has to have pinpoint control. “I am definitely a control pitcher and am constantly working to tighten up my control of every pitch I throw.”
As for an out pitch, Dean says that two pitches have really been working for him better this year. “My curve and slider have both become effective tools for me this year. They have helped me get out of some tough jams.”
The strategy is simple even if the execution at the AAA level isn’t always because of the talent and experience of hitters in the International League.
“My strategy with approaching hitters is to be aggressive in the strike zone and work ahead. I know I don’t have an electric fastball, but I trust that I will be able to hit my spots with all my pitches. By working ahead, I am able to expand the zone and make the batter hit my pitch instead of having to give in to making a pitch they can handle.”
Red Wings manager Mike Quade and especially pitching coach Marty Mason have also played a large part in Dean’s resurgent 2015 campaign.
“A big thing Marty (Mason) has helped me with this year is really to just be me out on the mound. All year, he has told me to be me out there, not to try and be a pitcher I am not. I am not a guy that will light up a radar gun, so why would I go out there and try to do that? He just wants me to be Pat Dean out there, and his and Quade’s confidence in me as a pitcher has meant a lot this season.”
So what would a September call up mean for Dean after such a resurgent, comeback season?
“After six seasons with the Twins, getting a call up would mean more than words can describe. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my career so far. So, for that dream to come true, especially after the year I had least year in AA… I can’t imagine how great it would feel.”
Dean knows himself well, even when talking about his golf game. “On off-days, I enjoy playing golf with the guys. I am not very good at it, but I am getting better.”
He enjoys staying busy after the season too. “In the offseason, my fiancé and I like to do a lot of exploring and traveling. I like going to new places and trying new foods.”
Hopefully he and his fiancé will get the chance to travel to Minnesota and Target Field following the Red Wings season before starting a more formal, relaxing offseason.