Dodgers Prospect Watch: Keeping an Eye on Edwin Uceta

As a follower of the Los Angeles Dodgers, one of the most exciting aspects of Cactus League play has always been watching the system’s top prospects compete, particularly the pitchers. The 2021 opener was especially interesting because we saw three of the organization’s most talented young arms in Michael Grove, Andre Jackson, and Edwin Uceta.

Grove, 24, is certainly the headliner of the trio, as he was a prized blue-chipper who was selected by Los Angeles in the second round of the 2018 MLB draft out of West Virginia. Jackson, also 24, lasted a bit longer in the 2017 draft, having been chosen by the Dodgers in the 12th round. The 23-year-old Uceta, on the other hand, was signed as an international free agent back in 2016 and has flown somewhat under the radar ever since.

Uceta was signed out of the Dominican Republic when he was just 16 years old in 2016, at which point he was quickly assigned to the Dominican Summer League. He finally arrived stateside for the first time in 2017, starting 14 games for Low-A Ogden in the Pioneer League, while posting a 6.59 ERA with 62 strikeouts and 14 walks over an even 56 innings.

2018 saw much better results for the lanky, 155-lb., 6-foot righty. Over 25 combined starts between Low-A Great Lakes and High-A Rancho, he tallied a 5-6 record with a 3.89 ERA and 131 punchouts over 120-1/3 innings. Despite the mediocre numbers, scouts liked what they saw in the youngster so much that he made the Top 30 Prospect List of several different major outlets.

He posted superb numbers in 2019, going 11-2 with a 2.77 ERA and 141 strikeouts over 24 starts and 123-1/3 innings of work (including two key playoff starts for Double-A Tulsa), opening the eyes of farm directors and garnering an invite to the big-league side of 2020 spring training.

According to Evan Petzold of milb.com, Uceta worked at a gas station in Villa Los Almacigos during his early teen years. The young Uceta eventually made a deal with the owner of the gas station. In exchange for his work, the owner paid for Uceta to go to school.

As a boy who often did not have food on this kitchen table, Uceta accepted the seven-hour-per-day job. He went to school like a normal child, until his uncle Mario Alberto encouraged him to pick up a baseball and pitch during his mid-teen years.

Now, he’s set to begin his 2021 campaign as one of the Dodgers’ most talented pitching prospects.

“I just feel so proud,” Uceta told Petzold during his time at Great Lakes. “I’ve been working really hard and making adjustments. It’s a new opportunity, and I have to keep getting better every day. Everybody can’t always stay on the prospect list, I have to keep doing it.”

Uceta possesses a more traditional repertoire, utilizing a fastball, a curve, a changeup, and a slider. His fastball sits in the low nineties, sometimes topping out as high as 95 MPH. His curve and slider are average offerings, but most scouts feel his change is definitely his out pitch.

According to MLB Pipeline, “Uceta began to take off once the Dodgers got him to stop throwing across his body and take a more direct path to the plate. His improved delivery has allowed him to command his pitches better, a necessity because he’s not overpowering. With a slender 6-foot frame, he’ll have to prove he’s capable of handling a starter’s workload over a full season.”

Before the pandemic restrictions went into effect last year, Uceta threw three scoreless innings over two Cactus League appearances.

Uceta will certainly get his fair share of looks this spring. Obviously, his size is a huge concern, but his performance during 2021 Cactus League play should be a big indicator of what the Dodgers have in him moving forward.

Thoughts on Prospective Starting Rotation, Other Spring Training Notes

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We are now just days away from the first spring training game. With the start of games, the Dodgers will show an incredible depth of pitching arms throughout Cactus League play.

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Dodger Tickets Reselling at Ridiculous Prices, Other Spring Training Notes

With Dodger baseball soon returning, tickets have gone at a rapid pace, even though it’s just spring training. Last Friday, Cactus League tickets for the Dodgers went on sale and sold out in under two hours. Since there are only a limited number of tickets, it explains how fans are in a hurry to get them.

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Dodgers Announce Spring Training Non- Roster Invitees, Trade Josh Sborz to Rangers

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We are just a day away from pitchers and reporting for the first team functions of the spring. This offseason was quite like none other in many ways, but baseball is finally returning.

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Dodgers 2020 Cactus League Play: Who’s Hot & Who’s Not at the Halfway Point

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For the Dodgers, Saturday’s 7-1 victory over the Rockies marked the exact halfway point of the 2020 Cactus League season. While some folks don’t put an overwhelming amount of importance on either individual or team performances during spring games, others still like to peek at the overall stats just to get an idea where the numbers are trending.

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4 Things to Watch During Cactus League Opening Weekend

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On Thursday, the Dodgers announced the starting pitchers for the first two games of Cactus League play this weekend, as Tony Gonsolin is scheduled to take the mound against the Giants on Saturday and Alex Wood against the Cubs on Sunday.

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Should Dodgers Be Concerned About Shoddy Bats During Cactus League Play?

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Believe it or not, the 2019 Cactus League season has come and gone for the Dodgers, signalling that Opening Day is just another step closer.

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Dodgers Spring Training Notes: Kershaw, Bellinger Making Positive Strides

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On the heels of the second Cactus League contest against the Angels on Sunday, there was a bit of good news coming out of the Dodgers camp, most specifically the health of two key players in Clayton Kershaw and Cody Bellinger.

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Dodgers Edge White Sox in Cactus League Opener

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Joc Pederson hit the Dodgers‘ first home run of the spring and Russell Martin delivered a two-run double in his return to the team as the Dodgers held off the White Sox at Glendale on Saturday, 7-6.

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Dodgers 25-Man Roster: More Contemplations on the Opening Day Squad

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There’s only one week left until the Dodgers kick off the 2018 regular season against Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants. I’d be willing to bet most fans are ready for that day to come, if for no other reason than no one wants anymore injuries to occur before the start of the season.

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