Cole Uvila, 26, is a right-handed relief pitcher in the Texas Rangers organization. Chances are you’ve heard his name come up recently and that is for good reason: he’s talented. Uvila stands at 6’3 and 206 lbs and has a reprotiore that includes a curveball that has an elite-level spin rate.
When the others in his position may have given up, Uvila has a never-quit attitude that has kept him in pursuit of the ultimate goal of playing in the MLB. It’s definitely part of what makes his story so appealing. It reminds me of the Rangers “Never Ever Quit” motto back in 2015.
You might be surprised to know that Uvila’s path in baseball didn’t start on the mound. He played shortstop in High School and started at shortstop in College but he struggled at the plate and moved to pitching. As a pitcher, he threw submarine but that changed when he went to Driveline where he’s trained since 2013.
College and Tommy John
Uvila played for three different Colleges: Pierce College, Georgia State University and Georgia Gwinnett College.
In 2014 with the Pierce Raiders, he had a 1.77 earned run average in 66 innings.
In his two seasons with the Georgia State Panthers, he had a 2-7 record with a 3.38 earned run average and a 1.422 WHIP. His 2016 season got off to a strong start with a 1-1 record with 0.90 earned run average.
Uvila was on the mound for Georgia State University when his ulnar collateral ligament completely tore.
That’s when he had the surgery that Texas Rangers fans seem too familiar with in recent years. He could have given up and walked away from the game at that point but again, the never quit attitude. Others may have but he spent 18 months rehabbing and then transferred to Georgia Gwinnett College. In 55 innings, he allowed 48 hits, walked 29, struck out 80 and had an 4.75 ERA.
2018 MLB draft
The Texas Rangers drafted Uvila in the 40th round of the 2018 draft. It’s safe to say that he didn’t expect to wait that long for his name to be called but more importantly, his name was called.
Some 2019 numbers
In 2019 Uvila pitched in the Arizona Fall League, Hickory and Down East. He didn’t disappoint at any level.
In Hickory, he had a 2-0 record with 0.00 earned run average and 0.571 WHIP (Walks & Hits per nine innings pitched) in seven innings pitched.
With Down East (Texas Rangers High-A affiliate) he had a 5-3 record with a 2.50 earned run average and a 1.110 WHIP. In his 57.2 innings he walked 33 batters and struck out 85.
In the Arizona Fall League he pitched 10.2 innings to a tune of a 2-0 record with a 2.53 earned run average and a 1.594 WHIP.
Not bad for a 40th-round #MLBDraft pick.#Rangers righty Cole Uvila not only had 4 of the top 5 spin rates on curveballs in this year’s @MLBazFallLeague, but he had the top 3 since #Statcast began recording data in the AFL in 2015.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) October 29, 2019
Where does Uvila rank among the Rangers prospects?
The folks at fangraphs have Uvila ranked at number 36. You won’t really find many lists that have his name as most don’t go beyond 20-30 top prospects. Make no mistake, just because you don’t see his name in the top prospects, the Rangers definitely got value with him, especially in the last round.
Qs & As with Cole Uvila
With covid altering the season and canceling the minor league baseball season, what did you do to stay ready?
Cole Uvila: At first I was preparing for the 60 man roster. When we first broke Spring Training, I felt like I had a pretty good shot to make it. So I was throwing live to hitters once a week and throwing bullpens. Once the 60-man was announced I moved into the Rangers Village in Surprise and continued the same routine in case a spot on the roster opened up.
We know you go to driveline and work on things there which leads into my next question and hopefully this doesn’t sound too silly but How much into the analytic side of baseball are you?
Cole Uvila: I was a fan of baseball long before I was ever any good at it. I have always been into the analytics side of the game. As a player, it can be useful as long as you don’t let it consume you. Now that I’ve identified the type of pitcher I am (through analytics) I know what makes me successful so I don’t reference them often. At one point in my career I would be pitching in games wondering what my pitch characteristics were from pitch to pitch. That’s a recipe for disaster. The best thing analytics have done for me is give me the confidence in my stuff and they have allowed me to understand my own strengths and weaknesses.
I think I’ve seen it on Twitter before but what is the fastest pitch you’ve ever thrown in a game or outside of a game?
Cole Uvila: I’ve touched 98 a few times before in games.
What is the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make between each level?
Cole Uvila: The biggest adjustments I’ve had to make is in my first year I was able to just pitch off my fastball. As I moved up, I had to rely more on my offspeed and throwing different pitches in all counts.
What would you be doing if you weren’t playing baseball?
Cole Uvila: Can’t say for sure. Potentially working in baseball. Potentially a job in finance. Maybe playing poker full-time. I have a lot of interests outside of baseball. Haha.
What is something that not many people know about you?
Cole Uvila: Something that not many people know about me is I’m a big nerd at heart. I manage over 25 dynasty fantasy football teams each year, love the card game Magic the Gathering, and support myself financially through playing poker each off-season.
Is there anything specific you are working on this off-season?
Cole Uvila: Throwing harder and gaining strength.
What is your favorite hobby?
Cole Uvila: Favorite hobby right now would be playing Call of Duty with my buddies in the rangers and my best friends from high school.
What is your favorite home cooked meal?
Cole Uvila: My dads spaghetti.
What’s special about dads spaghetti?
Cole Uvila: To be honest it’s just a nostalgia thing. Haha, I just love it.
Who has been one of the biggest influences on your baseball career?
Cole Uvila: My dad for sure. He supported me through it all. If it was up to him, I would have been a race car driver but at a young age I fell in love with sports and so did he. He always supported what I wanted to do and sacrificed a lot of his time to make my dreams possible.
Uvila will likely start 2021 in Frisco if Minor-League baseball starts on time. 2021 just may be the year that we see Cole Uvila in Arlington. One thing we know for sure, Cole will be ready when he gets the call.