Earlier today, the Chicago White Sox added another transaction to an already lengthy list dating back to December 6, 2016. Rick Hahn and the White Sox agreed to a deal with the Mariners that sent right-handed pitcher Thyago Vieira to Chicago in exchange for international signing bonus pool money. This just adds to the already deep farm system that the White Sox have formed since the Sale trade to Boston.
The White Sox clearly made this deal because they don’t expect to be a big player in the Shohei Otani sweepstakes later this year. This is due to the big signing of Luis Robert earlier this year, who put the White Sox under penalty for the next 2 years. They traded away the unneeded bonus money for a hard-throwing 24-year-old right-hander in Thyago Vieira. The 24-year-old Brazilian was the 8th ranked prospect in the Mariners system according to MLB.com. Vieira will be the 20th ranked prospect in the White Sox behind RHP Jordan Stephens and OF Charlie Tilson. After dealing a lot of their bullpen pieces during the 2017 season, Rick Hahn knew he had some work to do when it came to the White Sox bullpen for the 2018 season and beyond.
Vieira made his Major League debut on August 14th with the Mariners against the Baltimore Orioles. The right-hander was welcomed quickly as this happened on his very first pitch in the big leagues.
GIF courtesy of MLBAM
Vieira only pitched that one inning during all of the 2017 season, but has a ton of promise for this White Sox squad. Vieira has an 80 grade fastball, on the 20-80 scale, along with a 55 grade curveball. The largest concern about Vieira is his control, which only grades out as a 45. This was evident during his time between both AA and AAA in 2017. Between the two levels, Vieira pitched a combined 54 innings to the tune of a 4.00 ERA and a 46/22 K/BB ratio. The strikeout total isn’t as high as you would like for a pitcher that can hit 100 mph on the radar gun, but the issue is being able to consistently throw for strikes.
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 15, 2017
Thyago Vieira might have some control issues, but the trade to the White Sox organization might have been the best thing for him at this point. Pitching coach Don Cooper is known for being able to turn around pitchers who are struggling at times in their career. The last pitcher that the Mariners traded to the White Sox was Matt Thornton, who went on to have a good career after working with Don Cooper. Thyago Vieira is mostly known for his curveball and 100 mph heater right now, but could potentially add a cutter after spending some time in the majors with Cooper.
There is still some concern about Thyago’s control and ability to consistently find the plate, but there is a ton of potential still left in the arm. The White Sox are currently in a low-risk high-reward situation by only trading away some of the international bonus pool money. The bullpen was headlined by Danny Farquhar and Aaron Bummer as setup men with Juan Minaya as the closer to end the 2017 season, which means Vieira will have plenty an opportunity to prove himself during Spring Training in 2018. Fans can expect Vieira to be in the mix for the closer’s role early in the season with no established closer on the current Sox roster. If Don Cooper and bullpen coach Curt Hasler can help Thyago Vieira find some consistency, the White Sox may have gotten a huge steal from the Mariners while they chase Japanese star Shohei Otani.