Thyago Vieira is fun.
Mariners fans know this. We thought it as he enjoyed a breakout season with the Bakersfield Blaze in 2016 and we were certain of it as he went down to the Arizona Fall League and held his own. After Sunday’s Futures Game, a few more people may be certain of it, too.
Vieira entered the game in the seventh inning with the World team trailing, 7-4. His task, as one might expect in a kinda-sorta-All-Star game, was daunting: Giants’ CF Bryan Reynolds, Marlins 3B Brian Anderson, White Sox C Zack Collins, and Phillies 2B Scott Kingery. Vieira, rocking his bright blue ‘World’ jersey and trademark white glasses, went to work.
His first pitch clocked in at 99.7 mph, running well outside for ball one. He’d find that corner on the next pitch, placing a 99.8 mph offering on the black for strike one. The count would eventually run full, and his 3-2 fastball would run just off the plate for ball four. It was more of a great at-bat by Reynolds than it was a poor display of command by Vieira. Both sliders thrown and the last fastball were filthy pitches that the Giants’ outfielder managed to lay off of.
The next batter, Brian Anderson, would enjoy a much shorter at-bat. After laying off another late-tailing fastball to run the count to 1-0, he’d turn on a 99.3 mph heater and send a hard grounder through the left side and into the outfield, setting up a first and second, no-out situation.
This is where things would get fun.
After missing with two straight fastballs and falling behind Zack Collins, last year’s tenth-overall pick, Vieira’s fastball would come roaring to life. His third pitch was a 98.9 mph burner on the outside corner. His fourth pitch found the same spot at 99.2 mph. His fifth pitch, well:
Thyago Vieira swinging K at 101 pic.twitter.com/ygfmkp7s5T— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) July 9, 2017
101 mph (100.7, by Gameday) right at the top of the strike zone. Zack Collins tried, sure, but when Vieira can spot that fastball, with the movement it possesses, there’s not a ton Collins can really do.
Speaking of movement, perhaps my favorite pitch of the day would come in the next at-bat:
When we stop and think here, I mean really stop and think here, this pitch is stupid. He’s throwing a tiny little baseball one hundred miles per hour, which is already stupidly hard to hit. Right at the last second, this tiny little baseball traveling 100 mph explodes into intense arm-side run, moving from the inside half of the plate to well in on Kingery’s hands, which is an unfair and stupid amount of movement for a pitch moving that fast. It was all stupid, and it kinda helps you understand why Vieira’s stock skyrocketed so quickly once he showed the smallest semblance of command. One pitch later he’d induce a lazy fly ball and his day would be done.
His final stat-line: 0.2 IP, BB, H, K, 0 R, 16 pitches (8 strikes). His slowest fastball on the day clocked in at just a tad under 99 mph. Everything moved. It wasn’t a dominant outing (the secondary stuff needs work), but it was fun, and a pleasant reminder that even though the talent in this farm system may be very hard to find at times, there’s still a guy down there with a triple-digit-ants-in-the-pants fastball.
In an added bonus, Vieira’s weekend prominence was not limited to the field:
Thyago Vieira says he decided to throw 104 mph after watching Aroldis Chapman do it. Just said "ok, I'll do that tomorrow". And he did— Kyle Glaser (@KyleAGlaser) July 8, 2017
Yay, Thyago! Yay, Mariners!