Pitcher of the Week
2018 Season: 5 G (4 GS), 27.2 IP, 21 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 37 K (Low-A)
Week: 2 G (2 GS), 13.0 IP, 10 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 23 K (Low-A)
Luc Rennie was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 16th round of the 2012 MLB Draft out of Torrey Pines High School in San Diego, and given a $100,000 bonus- not bad for a 16th rounder. He posted solid numbers in the 26.2 innings he pitched in the Gulf Coast League that year, but as he moved up through the Orioles’ minor league system, the results became progressively worse and worse. The right-hander spent time with the Aberdeen IronBirds, Delmarva Shorebirds, and Frederick Keys over the next few years, but was given his release in 2015. According to Rennie, “When I left the Orioles organization, I was pretty broken. I was not what I am right now. I completely had to rebuild my foundation…It was really scary. It’s taken the last three-and-a-half, four years of my life to rebuild myself from ground zero.”
After being released, Rennie signed with the Evansville Otters in the Frontier League. According to Otters manager Andy McCauley, “Luc is a true Frontier League success story. After his release by Baltimore, he needed a venue to get back into form. I have to give credit to Max Peterson for working endlessly with him and credit Luc for his tireless work ethic.” In his first year with Evansville, Rennie posted a 7.33 ERA in 46.2 innings, allowing 60 hits, walking 30, and striking out 41. His second year was much more successful, as the right-hander posted a 2.91 ERA in 77.1 innings, allowing 71 hits, walking 39, and striking out 66. The Otters extended Rennie for the 2018 season, and in ten games posted a 2.31 ERA, allowing 51 hits, walking 20, and striking out 70. He signed with the Mets on the Fourth of July and was assigned to the Columbia Fireflies, filling in the spot in the rotation vacated by the recently promoted Anthony Kay.
The 24-year-old throws from a high-three-quarters arm slot with a simple, repeatable delivery. Despite reports claiming otherwise, Rennie’s fastball sits 88-91 MPH and features cutting movement. He complements it with a mid-80s slider, a high-70s curveball, and a periodic high-70s changeup. He works fast and pounds the strike zone, spotting his location. In particular, he likes to work up and down with his fastball, changing the eye level of hitters and setting up his curveball.
Over the last couple of years, the Mets have signed numerous players out of independent baseball leagues, to varying degrees of success. Jonathan Albaladejo, Mitch Atkins, Andrew Barbosa, Blake Beavan, Cory Burns, Casey Delgado, Aaron Laffey, Donovan Hand, Tyler Herron, Mickey Jannis, Matt Pobereyko, Josh Smoker, the list goes on and on. The constant dipping into the indies highlights a weakness within the Mets’ minor league system. While the system as a whole has certainly been depleted over that time due to trades and promotions, it hasn’t had the depth to replenish itself. While some of the indy players that were signed certainly worked out- Josh Smoker being the most noteworthy of the group- the Mets have been among the most active teams in scouting and signing indy players. While that is not a bad thing, per se- and I certainly am for second chances, and guys that might’ve been overlooked getting a shot- a team should be able to fill its holes in-house.
Hitter of the Week
2018 Season: 30 G, 119 AB, .261/.336/.471, 31 H, 7 2B, 0 3B, 6 HR, 13 BB, 19 K, 0/0 SB (Rookie)
Week: 7 G, 26 AB, .385/.484/.923, 10 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 5 BB, 2 K, 0/0 SB (Rookie)
At 18-years-and-229-days-old, Mark Vientos is one of the youngest players in the Appalachian League. Only Everson Pereira, Nolan Gorman, Oswald Peraza, and Claudio Finol are younger. In many cases, when a young player is tread water, we view that as a good thing. While Vientos is not necessarily crushing the league, he has been an above-average offensive-producer through basically a little more than half the Appalachian League season now. He started out the season hitting an uninspiring-but-solid .258/.343/.419 in June and .300/.391/.350 in the beginning of July but fell into a slump in the middle of the month, hitting .189/.225/. Of late, his bat has really come alive, he hit .286/.375/.686 for the end of July.
Given that Vientos plays down in Kingsport, it’s difficult to get reliable, first-hand accounts. Jeff Paternostro will be heading down to Kingsport in the beginning of August, and I will be going down to Pulaski, Virginia in the middle of August, so until then, all first-hand accounts are from third-parties that I don’t necessarily know or trust as being reliable and/or accurate. That doesn’t mean these sources are unreliable or that they don’t know what they are talking about, but because I don’t know them, I can’t say for certain how accurate and knowledgeable they are.
Based on the accounts of others, Vientos has put on some additional weight in his lower half, and that his top half could fill in some more in the future to match that. Listed at 6’4”, 185 pounds, that additional weight was expected, as projection and physical development was a big reason why Vientos was considered so highly in the 2017 Draft. While it might’ve hampered his ability to play shortstop- and he has played only third base this season- he was always projected to have above-average power because of this.
With some other tweaks to his mechanics, Vientos could become an even bigger power threat. He utilized a toe tap while playing at American Heritage High School, and that timing mechanism has been replaced by a leg kick, and that generally gives batters a bit more power. He swings with a very level, linear bat path, so changing his swing to include a little bit of added loft could give him a bit more power as well.
That is not to say that the power that Vientos has been showing this season is cheap; that he is feasting on Rookie-level junk and that his home runs are wall scrapers. His season has been just the opposite, in fact. He’s shown a lot of opposite field pop. He’s shown the ability to hit balls far that weren’t exactly squared up on. He has a few doubles that one-hopped the wall, and deep fly ball outs.
Combine Vientos’ power with his eye at the plate and barrel control, and you have a very exciting prospect.
Past Players of the Week
WEEK ONE 2018 (April 5-14): Justin Dunn/Ty Kelly
WEEK TWO 2018 (April 15-21): Chris Viall/Quinn Brodey
WEEK THREE 2018 (April 22-28): Chris Viall & Tony Dibrell/Peter Alonso
WEEK FOUR 2018 (April 29-May 5): Marcel Renteria/Jeff McNeil
WEEK FIVE 2018 (May 5-May 12): David Peterson/Jhoan Urena
WEEK SIX 2018 (May 13-May 19): Joe Cavallaro/Jeff McNeil
WEEK SEVEN 2018 (May 20-May 26): Mickey Jannis/Peter Alonso
WEEK EIGHT 2018 (May 27-JUNE 2): N/A
WEEK NINE 2018 (JUNE 3-JUNE 9): N/A
WEEK TEN 2018 (JUNE 10-JUNE 16): Justin Dunn/Wilmer Flores
WEEK ELEVEN 2018 (JUNE 17-JUNE 23): Nabil Crismatt/Peter Alonso
WEEK TWELVE 2018 (JUNE 24-JUNE 30): Drew Gagnon/Jeff McNeil
WEEK THIRTEEN 2018 (JULY 1-JUNE 7): Jaison Vilera/Jeff McNeil
WEEK FOURTEEN 2018 (JULY 8-JUNE 14): Jason Vargas/Blake Tiberi
WEEK FIFTEEN 2018 (JULY 15-JUNE 21): Tony Dibrell/Tomas Nido