On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Pirates announced that they have claimed 25-year-old right-handed pitcher Edwin Uceta off waivers from the Detroit Tigers
Prior to joining the Pittsburgh Pirates, Edwin Uceta was signed as an international free agent by the Los Angeles Dodgers at 18-years-old out of the Dominican Republic. With the Dodgers, Uceta remained a full-time starter until he was called up to Triple-A in 2021, where he transitioned to a swing-man type of reliever out of the bullpen.
Following a mediocre season in Triple-A, Uceta was called up to the majors and didn't have the best rookie season with the Dodgers, posting a 6.64 ERA, 4.40 FIP, struck out 25 batters, walked 12, and had a 1.52 WHIP across 20.1 innings pitched out of the bullpen. Uceta was used as an opener on his major league debut (April 30th, 2021 versus the Milwaukee Brewers) and only lasted 2 innings, gave up 2 earned runs, and struck out 2 batters.
On October 27th, 2021, Uceta was claimed off of waivers by the Arizona Diamondbacks and played most of the season in Triple-A. Just like with the Dodgers, Uceta was utilized as a swing-man and started a handful of games for the Reno Aces, posting a 4.86 ERA, 5.50 FIP, struck out 70 batters, walked 30, and had a 1.30 WHIP across 50 innings pitched. While his strikeout numbers looked great, he also gave up 9 homeruns and struggled with controlling his pitches. With the Diamondbacks, Uceta's control issues continued, where he posted a 5.52 ERA, 4.52 FIP, struck out 13 batters, walked 7, and had a 1.24 WHIP across 17 innings pitched.
During the 2023 offseason, Uceta was claimed off of waivers by the Detroit Tigers and was able to pitch in Spring Training this season. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to make the cut for the Opening Day roster and was designated for assignment on March 30th. With the Pirates claiming Uceta, this makes his fourth team in just two years.
While his numbers don't look remotely appealing, the Pirates clearly saw something in him and snagged him off the waiver wire for a reason. Even with his struggles, Uceta showed lots of strikeout upside in the minors with his dominant 81 MPH curveball and solid 93 MPH sinker. Last season in the majors, his curveball with a 2575 spin rate held batters to just a .100 batting average and had a 26.7% whiff-rate. His sinker generated the most amount of strikeouts (8), but it was also the pitch that was hit the most by batters in a small sample size.
Granted, this is just a depth acquisition and he was potentially picked up to help our struggling bullpen in Triple-A, but since he is still on the 40-man roster, it makes me wonder if we will potentially see Uceta sometime this season for the Pirates, or if he is bound to be the next DFA candidate?
With JT Brubaker being transfered from the 10-Day IL to the 60-Day IL, signs are not looking good considering that his injury was labled as "forearm discomfort" on Monday. The severity of the injury is still unknown, but all we can do is wish for a healthy recovery for JT and hope he will be able to play later in the season.