Pat Dean arrived in Durham, N.C., on Sunday morning and had an entire day to kill by himself until his new Rochester teammates arrived. What did the Connecticut native do with his day in the South?
"A bunch of people kind of guided me over to Dames Chicken and Waffles," he said. "It was delicious. Made a nice day-before-game meal."
The Bulls' hometown made a welcome host for Dean and then Monday, the 24-year-old was the one doing all the cooking. In his Triple-A debut, Dean carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and finished with seven shutout frames in Rochester's 4-2 win over Durham.
The left-hander held Durham to two hits while striking out four and walking three. Dean threw 56 of his 94 pitches for strikes, and he cited strong fastball command and comfort in his changeup as keys in his first outing.
"I was able to keep the ball down, work both sides of the plate, keep hitters off balance," he said. "Definitely keeping hitters off balance was a big key to my success, and the guys made plays behind me."
Dean did had to evade a jam early in his debut. After getting groundouts from Kevin Kiermaier and Cole Figueroa, the left-hander issued walks to Tim Beckham and Vince Belnome. Dean induced a groundout from Jason Bourgeois on the next play, though, and retired the next seven batters he faced after that.
"I don't think that had anything to do with nerves," he said about the first inning. "I was just kind of nitpicking at the corners, trying to make too perfect a pitch. I just needed to throw the ball and get something in play, like I normally do. Nerves had nothing to do with it. I was just trying to be too fine."
Kiermaier broke up the no-hit bid with a single to lead off the sixth, but Dean still faced the minimum that inning after a ground-ball double play by Beckham.
In the seventh, Bourgeois delivered a one-out single to right, but after advancing to second on Leslie Anderson's groundout, Bourgeois was stranded as Dean retired Shelley Duncan to complete his outing.
Dean's catcher Monday was Josmil Pinto, who also caught a number of the left-hander's starts in Double-A New Britain earlier this season.
"He knows me and how I like to work, and it was nice to have a little comfort zone back there," Dean said. "Him knowing how I like to throw made it easier for him to call the game. I didn't have to shake him off too often."
The third-round pick out of Boston College in 2010,has been steadily climbing the Twins' Minor League ladder since being drafted. After a few Rookie-level Appalachian League starts in 2010, the hurler began his first full season in 2011 with Class A Beloit. Halfway through the season, he was bumped to Class A Advanced Fort Myers, and even earned one start at New Britain at the end of the year.
After spending that offseason working out and substitute teaching in Connecticut, he returned to Fort Myers in 2012 and spent the entire season with the Miracle, making 28 starts with a 3.99 ERA.
The next offseason, the elementary education major passed on teaching for another winter, using the extra time to work out and prepare for 2013. This season, Dean made 22 starts for the Rock Cats prior to his promotion Sunday. The native of Naugatuck, Conn. -- whose hometown is about half an hour from New Britain's home park -- went 6-11 with a 4.68 ERA in the Eastern League. In 125 innings, he struck out 61 and walked just 17, holding opponents to a .295 average.
Pinto and Jeff Clement led Rochester's offense with three hits apiece.