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Who is Diamondbacks reliever Thyago Vieira?

Who is Diamondbacks reliever Thyago Vieira?

Who is Diamondbacks reliever Thyago Vieira?

Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Thyago Vieira pumped his fist after striking out all three batters in the ninth inning against the Dodgers on Thursday night. He had also closed out the win the night before.

Diamondbacks fans can be forgiven for not knowing much about the big man from Brazil. These two outings were his first since June 26. The previous six appearances with Arizona came amid blowout losses when fans had likely already tuned out. He has a 2.92 ERA in 12.1 innings and 10 strikeouts since being claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles on June 6.

Watching last night’s game, his talent was on display even in a blowout 9-3 victory. Throwing fastballs between 97 and 100 MPH, while mixing in some sliders, he generated five WHIFFS on six swings. This has always been Vieira’s potential, but it hasn’t been realized often.

Now 31, some might be tempted to dismiss him as a pitcher who will never capitalize on his talents. Originally signed by the Mariners in 2011 at age 18, he is in his fifth MLB organization.

He has pitched just 63 innings in the majors, with a career ERA of 5.97 and a FIP of 4.86. He has 37 walks, 61 strikeouts and 12 home runs allowed. Vieira also pitched for three years in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants from 2020-22.

It’s important to understand that he comes from a country, Brazil, that doesn’t have a strong amateur development system. Only five players from Brazil have ever made it to the major leagues. With that background and so few innings played in the MLB, it’s possible that he simply came late.

I had the chance to speak with him before the trip and get to know him better. He gave me some very interesting insights into his personal life and how he has grown as a pitcher. Note: Vieira speaks English and did not need a translator for this interview.

Coming from Brazil, Portuguese is your native language, do you speak Spanish too?

“Yes, I do. I learned in Venezuela because my first two years in professional baseball were in the summer league. So I spent two years there and learned Spanish. And then I moved to the U.S. in 2013 and from there I started learning English with the guys. (Teammates)”

You played in Japan for three years. How was it?

“Wow, it was a very good experience for me. I learned a lot, especially how to be consistent in my routine and I started paying more attention to how the best players prepare. I tried to put everything in order and I think there were a lot of little things that helped me get back to the Major Leagues.”

You’ve generally been used as a short reliever in your career, but Torey Lovullo has praised your ability to give the team length at times since you arrived.

“I would say, first of all, it’s a little bit different because throughout my career, I’ve usually pitched one or two innings. But other than that, I’m just trying to figure out how I can help the team and be ready for any type of situation. I don’t try to overthink it, I just try to go out there and compete and do the best I can.”

There are not many players in the Brazilian league.

“I’m alone right now, because I found out that Yan Gomes was fired. So now I’m alone.”

Tell me about amateur baseball in Brazil and how the game is evolving there.

“Baseball is very small there. We don’t have a lot of professional players. We have a couple of players in the minor leagues. The next guy who has a good chance of making it to the major leagues is Eric Pardinho from Toronto. He’s really good. He’s a real player right now.”

“Apart from that, baseball is slowly growing in Brazil, but much better than in the past. I would say they have more opportunities now. There are more scouts going to Brazil, they have an academy there. They are trying to improve baseball there, but for us it is a bit difficult because the number one sport is football.”

Are local churrasco (Brazilian barbecue) restaurants authentic?

(He lets out a big laugh) “Not really, but it’s still good, it helps us a lot, because we spend a lot of time away from our hometown. So we try to find some similar places here. It works well, it’s better than nothing.”

Vieira is spending the offseason with his family in Brazil. Standing at 6’3″ and weighing 270 pounds, the big man always has a smile on his face and seems to fit in very well with his teammates in the locker room. The D-backs may have found a diamond in the rough that Brent Strom and the coaching staff can help polish and help him be an effective reliever in the future.

Here is a post about X that includes a couple of short highlight videos from the latest