Peters and Uceta Reach the Bigs In Tough Spots – Welcome To The Show, Part 4
The MLB debut is the dream for so many aspiring baseball players. Children dream of playing for their favorite team in their home ballpark. After adolescence, the details of what team or city don’t tend to matter quite as much. This week, both DJ Peters and Edwin Uceta reached the Bigs, both in tough spots for the young players.
DJ Peters Steps Onto The Field
A childhood dream came true for DJ Peters, however, on April 23rd at Dodger Stadium. In the bottom of the ninth inning, DJ Peters pinch hit for Luke Raley and grounded out to third.
A game-ending groundout in front of a COVID-restricted capacity is probably not how Peters envisioned his debut. He grew up in Glendora and sat in the bleachers of Dodger Stadium as a kid, fantasizing of playing for the Dodgers and likely dreaming up scenarios in which his heroism would lead them to victory. In his post-game interview, it was clear that none of those other details mattered anymore. He was now a Dodger. That’s all that matters.
Three Days in Blue Heaven
DJ Peters lived his childhood dream over the weekend of April 23rd to April 25th. After that, the Dodgers optioned him back to the alternate site. He has since joined the Oklahoma City Dodgers for the start of their minor league season. He has yet to collect his first major league hit in his five at-bats in the majors thus far. At age 25, there is still plenty of time for Peters. With a struggling Dodgers offense over the last couple of weeks, his time might come sooner rather than later. Only time will tell. For now, DJ Peters can play in Oklahoma City with a new perspective. The dreams of his childhood realized, DJ Peters has made it to the big leagues.
Five plate appearances is not a large sample size. If (or seemingly when) DJ Peters makes it back to the majors this year, we can expect him to get the bat going at some point. His minor league highlights list is long. He hit two home runs off Madison Bumgarner in the same inning while Bumgarner was on a rehab start. In Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, he hit a ball out of the park and into a hotel across the street. He hit 29 home runs in the minor league season with the Tulsa Drillers in 2018, leading the league.
On top of his skills with the bat, he has a good arm and good speed in the outfield. When I saw him in Rancho Cucamonga several years ago, he threw out a runner at home plate from near the centerfield wall. It was one of the most impressive plays I have ever seen at any level of the minor leagues. While his lone weekend in April ended with an 0-for-5, Dodger fans should be hopeful. DJ Peters is yet another great talent from the loaded 2016 draft class, and he had wanted to be a Dodger since his first visit to Chavez Ravine when he was six years old. His time has come, and his time will come. Childhood dreams can come true.
Edwin Uceta Makes Good
While DJ Peters grew up 28 miles from Dodger Stadium, Edwin Uceta grew up about 3,028 miles from Dodger Stadium. The differences in their life experiences are equally massive. While Peters grew up in Los Angeles suburban sprawl, Uceta grew up in a small town in the Dominican Republic where he worked at a gas station as a kid to afford to go to school.
Peters was six when he went to Dodger Stadium for the first time. Uceta did not begin his baseball journey until he was nearly a teenager. Despite the distances and differences in their lives growing up, their paths began to converge in 2016. Peters was drafted in June, and Uceta was signed a month later. They began in different places within the Dodgers organization, playing at different levels of the minors. In 2019 they wound up on the same team together for the first time.
Peters and Uceta Reach the Bigs A Week Apart
One week to the day after Peters debuted, Uceta followed suit. He started a bullpen game in Milwaukee, going two innings and allowing two runs on four hits. Despite taking the loss in the game, his debut was solid. His two strikeouts suggested some swing-and-miss stuff that can play at the big league level. Uceta was optioned after the game to make room for Alex Vesia, as the Dodgers needed fresh arms out of the bullpen. Dodgers fans will not have to wait long to see Uceta again.
The loss of Dustin May for the season highlighted the need for starters. Names on the list of pitching injuries for the Dodgers include David Price, Joe Kelly, Brusdar Graterol, Corey Knebel, and Tony Gonsolin, among others. With each injury comes an opportunity for pitchers like Edwin Uceta.
After the final game in Chicago on Wednesday, the Dodgers recalled Uceta. His role has not been specified, but he will most likely pitch out of the bullpen as needed. With a major league appearance now under his belt, Edwin Uceta is poised to provide some much-needed stability to a team in turmoil. That is a big ask for a 23-year-old with only two innings in the major leagues, but the Dodgers are in dire need and will take whatever they can get. Uceta appeared relatively calm in his first outing, and we won’t have to wait very long for a second look.
To read about Old Friend Kyle Farmer in the last installment of Welcome To The Show, click here.