Right-handed reliever Thyago Vieira is a 24-year-old who spent last season at Hi-A Bakersfield, where he compiled a 2.84 ERA in 34 outings.
That doesn’t normally convince a club that he needs to be protected on the 40-man roster.
But Vieira, a Brazilian native signed in 2010 as a non-drafted free agent, then went to the Arizona Fall League, where he regularly pushed the radar gun into triple digits.
"When I came to the Fall League, I felt very confident," he said. "I told myself, `Don’t try to do too much. Just be you.’ I wanted to show the people who I am."
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A strong Fall League performance That convinced the Mariners to protect Vieira in November by adding him to their 40-man roster rather than risk losing him in the Rule 5 Draft.
"My reaction was crazy," he recalled. "After the Fall League, I had my flight to Brazil, and I was at the airport when the GM (Jerry Dipoto) called me. He told me, `We’re putting you on the 40-man roster.’
"I was like, `What? Really? That’s amazing.’ I was so happy. I called my wife and said, `Hey, I have good news for us.’"
On Friday, Vieira threw his first official spring bullpen workout. It looked free and easy. And powerful.
"My first reaction is this should be interesting," manager Scott Servais said. "He’s going to try to throw 100 miles an hour, and he didn’t. I think he was coached up very well by our pitching guys.
"I heard one of our guys say, `Just throw it down the middle at 95. Nice and easy.’"
Vieira is likely to start this season at Double-A Arkansas, but it’s worth noting that two hard-throwing right-handed relievers who began last year in Double-A, Edwin Diaz and Dan Altavilla, made the jump directly to the big leagues before the season ended.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners