Brazilian Thyago Vieira, almost released from the Mariners’ organization before the 2016 season, was thrilled to be part of the Futures Game in Miami. “Wow, it’s a big moment for my career and my future,” the hard-throwing pitcher said Sunday.

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MIAMI – On a day where he could have taken a few moments to celebrate the accomplishments of getting here, Thyago Vieira wouldn’t allow himself to forget the daily work and routine that made it possible.

So while many fellow pitchers on the World Team chatted in the outfield during the leisurely pregame workout for Sunday’s Futures Game, Vieira grabbed his things and headed to the bullpen of Marlins Park. He still had work to do after his long toss and flat-ground work.

Alone in the bullpen, Vieira spent the next 20 minutes carefully working on the mechanics of his delivery without throwing, but using a towel. Labeled “dry work” by pitching coaches, it’s monotonous repetition of simulating your delivery without actually throwing. It’s a way to practice while not taxing your arm. Think about practicing shooting a basketball without an actual ball or perfecting a golf swing without striking a ball. It’s not exactly enjoyable. And yet, it has been important to Vieira’s career rebirth.

“Every day,” he said, smiling. “It’s part of the process to get better. So I’m going to do it here.”

That process has led Vieira from being almost released from the Mariners’ organization before the 2016 season because of poor performances and worse command to one of the most prestigious honors for a prospect in the span of 1½ seasons.

To be selected to represent his home country of Brazil and the Mariners’ organization in the Futures Game was an overwhelming moment for Vieira. He’d seen teammates and opponents selected to play on the big stage. Given the inconsistency early in his career, it was difficult to even dream about it.

“Wow, it’s a big moment for my career and my future,” he said. “I just want to say thank you to everybody who helped me get here right now. They gave me the opportunity to do this.”

Vieira entered the game in the seventh inning with the World Team losing 7-4. He issued a six-pitch walk to the first batter he faced, though his 3-2 fastball on the outside corner could have been called a strike. He gave up a single, but then came back to strike out White Sox prospect Zack Collins swinging on a nasty 101 mph fastball. His outing ended after getting Scott Kingery of the Phillies to fly out to right.

The U.S. team held on for a 7-6 victory.

Vieira threw 18 pitches and eight were strikes. He relied heavily on his fastball, throwing 16 of them with only one clocked under 99 mph and three at 100 mph or more.

“Fastball is my best pitch,” he said. “So I’m going to take on the best hitters with my best pitch.”

Vieira is trying to build off his career-saving 2016 season that earned him an invitation to the Arizona Fall League, a spot on the 40-man roster and an invite to big-league spring training. In his first season at the Class AA level with the Arkansas Travelers, Vieira has posted a 2-3 record with a 3.41 earned-run average and two saves in 27 appearances.

“So far, it’s going good,” he said. “It’s been much better lately. I didn’t start off really good. But now I’ve made some adjustments and I’m doing good now.”

The early struggles included an ERA-inflating second appearance of the season where he allowed six runs in one inning of work. In his first eight appearances, he pitched 10 1/3 innings, allowing eight runs with nine walks.

“I can’t explain it,” he said of the issues. “When you play first time at the AA level, you have to be smarter. You can’t just throw. You have to command your stuff. You have to throw your secondary stuff for a strike.”

After getting five-day break from throwing as a reset, Vieira came back May 4 and has been dominant since — appearing in 19 games, posting a 1.88 ERA with 17 strikeouts and five walks in 24 innings.

“The hitters are more disciplined and they make adjustments really quick with the pitches,” he said. “You have to throw good pitches to get them out. Right now, I’ve been doing well because I’m more consistent with my fastball and my other stuff.”

Vieira’s story has become well known among Mariners fans.

Signed as a non-drafted minor-league free agent in 2010 out of Sao Paulo, he had pitched for five seasons at the lowest levels of the minor leagues with middling results. Sure, he had a fastball that touched 99 mph, but he also had awkward mechanics, almost no concept of where the ball might go when he let it fly and trouble staying healthy.

Going into the spring of 2016, Vieira was 23 and had never pitched above the Low-A level and it didn’t seem like he was destined to get that chance. The Mariners placed him on a list of possible players to be released that spring. Nothing they had seen from him said he’d amount to more than what he’d been thus far in his career — a hard thrower with no command.

But Ethan Katz, a newcomer to the organization and someone who has served as Vieira’s pitching coach the last two seasons, took him on as a special project, trying to salvage something from the obvious raw talent. The two men worked daily, cleaning up and bringing some consistency to Vieira’s violent mechanics while developing a viable breaking ball. That’s where the dry work began and it continues to this day.

“Every day with him, I did those drills,” Vieira said. “And I’m going to keep doing them.”

The hours of drills and work eventually led to results. Vieira had a stretch of appearances with then-Class A Bakersfield where he posted a 1.35 ERA with seven saves. In 261/3 innings, he struck out 36 batters and walked seven, holding hitters to a .179 batting average and a .414 on-base plus slugging percentage.

The breakout 2016 season earned Vieira an invitation to play in the Arizona Fall League, where he flashed a 103 mph fastball and a spot on the Mariners’ 40-man roster and the invite to big-league spring training.

“It was amazing,” he said. “I tried to take advantage of it because I was facing big-league hitters and I was able to talk with other guys in the Mariners’ clubhouse. It really helped me. My first game was really good. My last two games in spring training, my slider was not there. But the guys know that I throw hard; they were prepared for it.”

It’s all part of the process to get him to the big leagues. The consistency of his fastball and continued improvement of his slider will be vital. He could jump to Class AAA Tacoma by August and even be a September call-up.