3. Mark Vientos, 3B
Height: 6’4”, Weight: 185 lbs.
DOB: 12/11/99 (19)
Acquired: 2017 Draft, Round 2 (American Heritage High School, Florida)
2018: 60 G, 223 AB, .287/.389/.489, 64 H, 12 2B, 0 3B, 11 HR, 37 BB, 43 K, 1/1 SB, .312 BABIP (Rookie-APPY)
Mark Vientos has been making a name for himself on the exhibition and showcase circuit for years, earning praise by scouts and evaluators as early as 2013, when he was a a14-year-old. For three years, he played baseball at Flanagan High School, but in 2016, he switched schools and began attending American Heritage High School a few miles away. He only appeared in 26 games for the Patriots, missing some time in the spring due to a quad injury, but he did hit .417/.467/.523 with one home run and four stolen bases in six attempts. The 17-year-old was considered a borderline first-round talent, but the quad injury combined with his commitment to the University of Miami caused multiple teams to pass over him in the 2017 MLB Draft. The Mets selected Vientos with their second-round pick and signed him fairly quick, with the two sides agreeing to a $1.5 million signing bonus, slightly above the slot value of $1,094,700.
The Mets assigned Vientos to the GCL Mets to begin his professional career and he held his own as one of the youngest players in the league, hitting .259/.316/.397 in 47 games. He played in four games with the Kingsport Mets at the end of the season and then was assigned there for 2018. As one of the youngest players in the Appalachian League, Vientos not only held his own but excelled, hitting .287/.389/.489 in 60 games. He walked 37 times, stuck out 43 times, and slugged 11 home runs- the most on the team by a large margin and tied for fourth in the Appalachian League along with Wander Franco and Nolan Gorman.
Vientos stands upright and has wide stance at the plate, helping him channel energy from his base. He used a slight leg lift as a timing mechanism as an amateur but recently exaggerated it a bit more. His swing can get a bit on the long side, but he has solid bat-to-ball skills and does not make swinging-and-missing a regular habit. When he makes contact, he puts a jolt into the ball thanks to his plus bat speed, regularly posting high exit velocity readings for a player his age. A byproduct of being a hitter above virtually all of the competition he has faced as an amateur is his exceptional patience and plate discipline. He was initially drafted as a shortstop, but he played virtually the entire 2018 season at third base and is not expected to move back to the position. Vientos is not unathletic, but he lacks explosive quick twitch muscle, resulting in a slow first step and below-average lateral quickness. His above-average arm and good instincts allow him to handle the routine play fine at third fine. There is worry that if he continues filling in, he will be forced to move to first base, but the teen should be fine for years to come assuming his body does not suddenly and drastically change.
Steve Sypa says:
I am all in on Mark Vientos. He’s a young buck that not only was able to hang, but man, at times he looked like an elite machine. The sky is the limit for his offensive prowess. Of course- and I don’t mean to be a villain- these are the Mets we’re talking about, so that dream can just as easily turn into a nightmare, but still. His bat packs a punch, and while the swing is a little long, he has a very advanced eye, giving him the ability to pick and choose his pitches, resulting in a low swing-and-miss tally and a fair share of walks. The biggest knock against him is that he is not a quick-twitch athlete, but that doesn’t mean that he is a poor defender. Vientos has an above-average arm, infielder instincts, and soft hands, and should have no problem playing third base. I don’t think this is an outrageously hot take, but I feel he profiles well compared to Nolan Gorman, the Cardinals’ top position player prospect and a consensus top prospect in all of baseball. Both have plus raw power with swings that are a little long and stiff but still plenty good to let that raw power manifest in-game. Both are third basemen that are seen as not great but adequate third baseman. There’s still plenty of time between now and then, and maybe it’s a little unfair to put these kinds of expectations on a teenager’s shoulders, but Mark Vientos could be the Mets’ next long-term third baseman, picking up the shield from David Wright.
Lukas Vlahos says:
In his second year in pro-ball, Vientos made an improvement that I’m always excited to see; huge improvements in plate discipline. After walking and striking out at mediocre rates in 2017, the 19-year-old doubled his walk rate and shaved roughly 5% of his strikeout rate, running nearly a 1:1 BB:K ratio. Vientos also hit for more power with 11 home runs and a .202 ISO in 262 PA, which I will argue is at least partially due to his improved approach in addition to any physical maturation. There’s still a ton of risk here, as there is with any rookie ball player, but the potential 25-30 HR, high average 3B.
Kenneth Lavin says:
In his first full summer as a professional, Vientos demonstrated considerable offensive potential and quelled a lot of the concerns scouts had about his ultimately defensive home. Vientos hit an impressive .287/.389/.489 in 262 PAs for Kingsport, while cranking 11 homers and walking in 14.1% of his plate appearances. This is especially impressive given the fact that he was one of the youngest players in the 2017 draft class, and played the entire season as an 18-year-old. While 2018 was a mostly positive year for the youngster, some big questions in his skillset remain. His swing is very long and has a tendency to be kind of stiff, which wasn’t a problem against rookie ball pitching, as evidenced by his 16.4 K% in the Appalachian League this past season, but may prove to be a bigger issue against better arms down the road. Despite the long swing, or perhaps because of it, Vientos has already demonstrated considerable power that he can get to in games. He isn’t likely to be a great fielder at third, but I think a lot of the concerns about his body moving him to left field or first base are a bit overblown at present. This upcoming season should prove to be the first real test of Vientos’ young career, as I expect him to start 2019 in full-season ball with the Columbia Fireflies.