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Vieira to show off velocity in Futures Game

Mariners prospect ready to take next step in development
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SEATTLE -- For Thyago Vieira, another phase of the learning curve will come today when the intriguing Mariners prospect appears in the 2017 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Marlins Park in Miami.

Two years ago, the 24-year-old from Brazil was barely on the Mariners' radar, let alone regarded as one of the up-and-coming relievers in baseball. But he'll be on the biggest stage of his young career this weekend as a member of the World Team that takes on a U.S. squad at 1 p.m. PT. The Futures Game can be viewed live on MLB Network and MLB.com.

SEATTLE -- For Thyago Vieira, another phase of the learning curve will come today when the intriguing Mariners prospect appears in the 2017 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Marlins Park in Miami.

Two years ago, the 24-year-old from Brazil was barely on the Mariners' radar, let alone regarded as one of the up-and-coming relievers in baseball. But he'll be on the biggest stage of his young career this weekend as a member of the World Team that takes on a U.S. squad at 1 p.m. PT. The Futures Game can be viewed live on MLB Network and MLB.com.

Mariners officials will be among those watching with great interest as Vieira and his 100-mph fastball could be a powerful weapon, once he learns to further harness his command and develop into a Major League-ready prospect. He's rated as the Mariners' No. 10 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com.

:: 2017 Futures Game coverage ::

"He'll go out in a very pressure-packed environment," said Andy McKay, the Mariners' director of player personnel. "For him, this will be the biggest appearance he's made in his life. It'll be great to see how he responds and deals with that rush of adrenaline. Can he go out and not get in own way and try to do too much? When you can throw 100 miles per hour, it's hard to imagine you need to do more, but it happens."

The Mariners are curious to see the progress made in that regard since spring, when Vieira caught the imagination of everyone who saw him early in his first Major League camp with his raw power, but then he struggled mightily in Cactus League games against big league hitters.

"The big league camp was kind of a shock to his system, but he's responded very well," McKay said. "His secondary pitch was not great in that period of time. A lot of bad counts with one pitch for many of those outings facing the best hitters in world, it's a bad combo. But all those things he's worked on and done very well.

"To be chosen for this game shows you the progress he's making. Where he's come from since the time I got here [in 2016] is pretty amazing."

Prior to 2016, the youngster's command issues were so extreme that he wasn't regarded as much of a prospect as he posted a 5.14 ERA with 139 strikeouts and 107 walks in 192 2/3 innings over five seasons of Rookie League and Class A.

But the big right-hander has a 3.41 ERA and two saves in 27 appearances for Double-A Arkansas this season, with 32 strikeouts and 14 walks in 34 1/3 innings. He had a big breakout season last year for Class A Advanced Bakersfield, in which he posted a 2.84 ERA with eight saves in 34 outings, racking up 53 strikeouts with 18 walks in 44 1/3 innings and earning a promotion to the Mariners' 40-man roster and an invitation to play in the Arizona Fall League.

Vieira is the Mariners' lone representative at this year's Futures Game. The event has featured many of MLB's budding stars since its inception in 1999. Seven current Mariners' Major Leaguers played in the game: Robinson Cano in 2003-04, Felix Hernandez in 2004, Nelson Cruz in 2005, Yovani Gallardo in 2006, James Paxton in 2011, Jean Segura in 2012 and Edwin Diaz in 2015.

The Futures Game is part of the All-Star week festivities in Miami. On Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. PT, tune in to the 2017 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2017 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.

The 88th All-Star Game, in Miami, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Thyago Vieira