When the Los Angeles Dodgers placed AJ Pollock on the 10-day injured list last week, they opted to recall a pitcher in Edwin Uceta from Triple-A Oklahoma City rather than another position player.
Uceta made his MLB debut on April 30 against the Milwaukee Brewers and has since appeared in three additional games. Uceta began the year at the club’s alternate training site, which is where he spent all of the shortened 2020 season as well.
“It was great. My velocity was really good when I went over there and it was something that helped me get through the season,” Uceta said of his experience at USC.
Not all was smooth sailing for Uceta, however, as he got placed on the restricted list for a violation of health and safety protocols. “It was a learning experience,” the right-hander said.
“There was a little bit of miscommunication with the mismanagement of a food item I ordered to the hotel. From that, I wouldn’t say it unraveled, but it didn’t go the way that we wanted it to. It’s something I’m going to learn from and grow from.”
At the conclusion of the 2020 season, Uceta participated in the Dominican Winter League, where he posted a 1.96 ERA over six appearances and faced some notable All-Stars. “When I went up there I basically pitched against the Toros del Este, which had most of the Major League talent,” Uceta said.
“Some players like Gary Sanchez and Yasiel Puig, so that really helped me out.”
Uceta’s success in winter ball initially translated in some regard to the Majors, but he has struggled more recently. Prior to this year, he had never pitched above Double-A.
“It kind of took me a little bit by surprise,” Uceta said of his fast track to the big leagues. “The goal was always to pitch in the Major Leagues or get to the Major Leagues this year. I was surprised and shocked by getting here, but pitching in the Dominican really helped me out.
“A lot of experienced hitters up there, and it was something that really helped me ease into the Major League world.”
Roberts sees potential in Uceta
Despite a peculiar 2020 season and some learning curves, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts believes Uceta has the tools to be a successful Major League pitcher.
“I think his first outing was more nerves than anything. I think in Spring Training he was good, he was not so good,” Roberts said when assessing Uceta’s early performance.
“It’s just kind of been inconsistent, which is also what happens to young players as they’re developing. So I just don’t know what it is. I do know that not logging — call it 100 innings — certainly hurt him as far as development.
“But he’s just really got a good head, he’s got really good command, I love his mound presence. He wouldn’t be here if we didn’t feel he could get Major League hitters out.”
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