His slight frame made it difficult to attract teams, so Uceta went unsigned in 2015 before landing a mere $10,000 bonus from the Dodgers the next July. The Dominican since has become an organization favorite for his pitchability and competitiveness. A key part of championship clubs in the Rookie-level Pioneer and Class A Advanced California leagues in 2017 and 2018, he allowed one run in two playoff starts last September as Double-A Tulsa fell in the Texas League finals.
Uceta's best offering is his hard changeup, which arrives with fade and late tumble after he sells it with deceptive arm speed. He sets it up with a sneaky fastball that ranges from 90-95 mph and stays off barrels thanks to its riding action. He has improved the shape of a curveball that serves as an effective third pitch.
Because he lacks physicality and power stuff, Uceta has to keep proving himself as a starter at each level and he has done so through Double-A. He has thrown strikes throughout his pro career and improved his command after Los Angeles helped him take a more direct path to the plate. A potential No. 4 starter, he has good feel for pitching and does a nice job of tunneling his pitches to keep hitters off balance.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
After signing for just $10,000 out of the Dominican Republic at the advanced age of 18 in 2016, Uceta recorded a 6.59 ERA in his U.S. debut a year later. He did improve over the course of the summer and pitched well in the playoffs to help Ogden win the Rookie-level Pioneer League championship. His 2018 season unfolded in a similar fashion, as he struggled after an August promotion to high Class A but won a crucial postseason game with 5 2/3 scoreless innings to contribute to Rancho Cucamonga capturing the California League title.
Uceta's best pitch is a hard changeup with fade and late tumble, and he throws it with the same arm speed as his fastball. His four-seam heater parks at 90-93 mph and reaches 95 with riding life up in the strike zone. He improved the shape of his curveball last year, giving him an average third offering.
Uceta has thrown strikes throughout his pro career, and his command improved once the Dodgers got him to stop throwing across his body and take a more direct path to the plate. A dogged competitor, he must be precise with his pitches and confuse hitters by throwing them from the same release point because he doesn't have overpowering stuff or deceptive angle. As a slender 6-footer, he'll have to prove he can maintain his stuff over the course of a full season.
Uceta drew little attention before this year, signing out of the Dominican Republic for $10,000 at the advanced age of 18 in 2016 and posting a 6.59 ERA in Rookie ball in his U.S. debut last summer. He did get better as the 2017 season progressed and pitched well in the playoffs as Ogden won the Pioneer League championship, setting the stage for a breakout. In his introduction to full-season ball, he has gotten stronger as the Midwest League season has progressed.
Uceta stands out most for his precocious feel for a changeup that can be a plus pitch at its best. He throws it with deceptive arm speed and sets it up with a fastball that sits in the low 90s and tops out at 95 mph. His curveball has gotten more consistent in 2018, giving him an average third pitch to round out his repertoire.
While Uceta has filled the strike zone since entering pro ball, he 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.