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Big League Dreams: Josh Uhen

A Look at Chinooks in the Minor Leagues

Josh Uhen – Milwaukee Brewers – Helena Brewers (Rookie)

Uhen_01In June of 2013, seven former Chinooks were drafted by major league teams. The first player that year and the second Lakeshore player to ever be drafted was right-handed pitcher Josh Uhen. The former UWM Panther and Oshkosh North High School standout experienced the dream of many prep players in Wisconsin when he was chosen in the 5th round by the Milwaukee Brewers. While statistically Uhen struggled in the 2012 Northwoods League season with the Chinooks and posted a 1-5 record with an 8.47 ERA in 28.2 innings, Josh caught the eye of the Brewers scouts. Having suffered through Tommy John surgery after blowing out his elbow in his first collegiate appearance, Uhen’s innings were limited throughout his career with the Panthers and during the 2013 season he threw just 21.1 innings with a 3.80 ERA and had four saves.

Despite not getting many innings and a lackluster summer with the Chinooks, the Brewers felt Uhen’s pitch velocity and limited innings may give the righty a chance to build a career. At the time of the 2013 Draft, Brewers Director of Scouting Bruce Seid knew the pick might be risky but projected that Uhen could develop when he said, “He has a big arm. For him it’s about getting some innings under his belt, being able to work on his delivery and the consistency of it. But it’s a big arm. When I look at guys like (Jim) Henderson and (John) Axford, I could see that type of potential.” With those kinds of expectations, Uhen headed off to rookie ball and pitched for the Brewers Arizona League team during the summer of 2013. In Maryvale, Uhen was given plenty of opportunity as he pitched in 14 games, starting in six. He posted a 2-6 record with a 4.54 ERA and 31 strikeouts.

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Uhen on the mound at Brewers training camp

 

This past summer, Uhen was assigned to the Brewers’ rookie team, the Helena Brewers of the Pioneer League, where he was joined on the pitching staff by fellow Chinook Donnie Hissa (Lakeshore 2013). Uhen’s numbers improved slightly with a 4.26 ERA, but he also logged 54.2 innings, the most of his career, as he made 15 appearances and started eight games. Uhen’s hope, despite the continual need to rehab and care for his arm after his earlier injury, is that he has proven to the club that he has what it takes to advance in the system. Uhen says, “The biggest thing to achieving my goals is to stay positive minded and repeat my delivery. My goal for the upcoming season is to stay healthy and have a 75% strike ratio. Throwing strikes is what it’s all about.” As he heads to Arizona in a few weeks, Uhen is hopeful he can impress the Brewers enough to stick around and earn a promotion. He has been getting in regular workouts at UWM and Miller Park, which is one of the advantages to being from the area.

Fans across the state will be watching to see how it will play out for the home grown boy, and fans of the Chinooks can get behind a player who valued the experience he had at Kapco Park. Being a local player, Uhen appreciated the opportunity to play for a club with an ownership group that includes Hall of Famers Robin Yount and Bob Uecker. “My favorite memory with the ‘Nooks was the home opener when Robin and Bob were there to throw out the first pitch and hang out with us…that was pretty cool,” says Uhen.  “Who better to pick up some advice and pointers from than those two?” As the 2015 spring training camps begin, we will find out if Uhen has acted on that advice and if he has what it takes to take another step.