Originally published at Dodgers Nation on May 24, 2019.
One of the Dodgers’ prospects making some noise is Edwin Uceta. He pitches for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, and after a slow start, is on fire. After considering that he’s probably ready for AA, I wanted the chance to interview him before he got promoted to the Tulsa Drillers.
The Quakes are full of talented pitchers that could also pitch in AA but either Uceta or Leo Crawford (both finished last year with the Quakes) seem to be next in line. By the way, if you have the chance to see Crawford pitch, he is fun to watch.
Over the weekend, I was able to ask Uceta some questions with the aid of former Dodger, Elián Herrera who is now the third base coach for the Quakes and acted as our translator.
Edwin Uceta was born in 1998 in Villa Los Almacigos, Dominican Republic. When growing up he told me his favorite player was “Pedro Martinez“. There are even some similarities between Pedro and Edwin as they aren’t that big. They also both throw a lot of different pitches.
He signed with the Dodgers at the age of 16 in July of 2016. He was immediately assigned to their Dominican Rookie team and excelled. In 2017 he was assigned to a rookie team in the United States, the Ogden Raptors. He was knocked around a bit but still averaged over a strikeout an inning. The 2018 season had him start with the Great Lakes Loons and he earned a promotion to the Quakes in early August. Uceta struggled quite a bit with the Quakes in 2018 until he relieved a Dennis Santana rehabilitation start with 5.2 innings pitched and gave up just two hits. This gave him a positive experience to end the season on.
Uceta said he throws a fastball, curveball, changeup and slider with the higher percentage of pitches being a fastball. He tries to mix his pitches well and he has the pitch selection to keep a batter off balance.
Edwin Uceta started showing up in prospect lists in mid-2018 and was in all major lists in the 2019 pre-season. He was number 21 for MLB Pipeline, number 16 for Prospects 1500 and number 28 for Baseball America
In four of his first five starts in 2019 he struggled as he was only throwing a shade under 60% of strikes. In 21.1 innings he gave up 25 hits, 10 walks, 26 strikeouts. High pitch counts got him out of the games even though he wasn’t giving up a lot of runs. With his last three starts he increased his strike percentage to 65%. He threw 17.2 innings and gave up just 13 hits, ONE walk, and 23 strikeouts.
When I asked him about why he might be throwing more strikes he spoke about trying to stay on top of the hitter, no matter what pitch. He attributes his high strikeout totals to attacking the hitters more. We spoke about if he’s pleased with his progress. He said that he worked very hard this last off-season and that he’s quite pleased.
A couple other random things I learned about Uceta; his favorite food to eat in the United States is Chipotle. Of all the players in the Major Leagues today that he likes to watch, his favorite is Walker Buehler.
It’s exciting to watch players like Edwin Uceta reach for their dreams. He’s a long way from home and misses his family the most. With the lack of video of the Quakes games it is tough for them to follow his games. When he’s back in the Dominican Republic and playing Winter Ball his family rarely misses him play.
The path to Los Angeles is a long one. It’s easy to root for people like Edwin and I hope and believe he will be called up to Tulsa in the near future. I asked him how he feels about a possible promotion and he said “I am ready”.
A final “thank you” to Elián Herrera for translating between Edwin and myself. Follow Edwin on Instagram here and Elián here.