Name: Mark Vientos
Weight: 185 lbs.
Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft, 2nd Round (American Heritage High School)
2019 Season: 111 G, 416 AB, .255/.300/.411, 106 AB, 27 2B, 1 3B, 12 HR, 22 BB, 110 K, 1/5 SB, .310 BABIP (Low-A)
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 just 14-years-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 American Heritage High School Patriots, missing some time in the spring due to a quad injury, but when he was able to get on the field, he 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 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 the entire 2018. Once again 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. The Mets were aggressive with the third baseman in 2019, promoting him to the Columbia Fireflies. While his season was a bit of a disappointment in terms of the expectations placed on him, Vientos had a respectable year, hitting .255/.300/.411 in 111 games with 12 home runs.
Vientos stands upright and has wide stance at the plate, holding his hands high. His swing can get a bit on the long side, but he has solid bat-to-ball skills, coming to the plate with a plan and generally adjusting depending on the pitcher and what he is given to hit. Of note, Vientos showed an extreme vulnerability to pitches down and away, especially breaking balls, seemingly unable to pick up on their spin. When he is able to make solid contact, he puts a jolt into the ball, regularly posting high exit velocity readings for a player his age.
Though initially drafted as a shortstop, Vientos hasn’t played the position since 2017 and is not expected to move back, instead playing third base. He 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, as he will exhibit even less of a first step and range, but Vientos should be fine for years to come assuming his body does not suddenly and drastically change.
The addition of Brett Baty into the system and a 2019 season that was rather pedestrian have turned Mark Vientos into something of a forgotten man. For all the superlatives discussed about Baty, keep in mind that Vientos is younger, is further along in his baseball development, and performed better in Kingsport in 2018 than Baty did in 2019. They have similar current hit and power tools, with Vientos being lankier and still having the ability to grow into more power and Baty being maxed out and unlikely to add much more through physical growth. After his performance in 2018, I thought Vientos was going to break out in 2019; unfortunately, not only did he not do that, but I saw a lot of negatives that I didn’t see the year prior when I saw him in Kingsport. That said, he still held his own as one of the younger players in the league, in a tough home park. The biggest flaws I saw in his swing last season are, in theory, fairly correctable. If addressed and improved upon, Vientos’ on-the-field production could catapult to new levels.
An extremely disappointing 2019 has me questioning the long-term viability of Vientos’s bat. His power and plate discipline both took major steps back, and both trends extended into the second half of his season despite a slight uptick. Vientos’s swing gets long and stiff, leading to plenty of swing and miss, while his defense has not improved. In essence, both of the main concerns raised about Vientos on last seasons’ list proved to be major problems. He’ll need to right the ship in both departments in order to remain a legitimate prospect in 2020.
After a stellar 2018 season with the Kingsport Mets, Vientos had a relatively difficult time adjusting to full-season baseball in 2019. The length in his swing worked less well against more advanced pitching, and Vientos struck out more and walked less this past season than the year before as a result. While his performance wasn’t quite what we were all hoping for after his breakout season in the Appalachian League, Vientos still managed to hold his own against significantly older competition. The young third baseman managed to hit a roughly league-average .255/.300/.411 in 454 plate appearances as a 19 year old in the South Atlantic League. It’s also worth noting that Vientos continued to get his considerable raw power into games this past season, having hit a career high 12 home runs, including a few monster shots that soared well past the centerfield wall. Vientos is in all likelihood headed to Port St. Lucie to start the 2020 season, where he will look to make contact more often, and get more of his considerable power to play in games.
Vientos was another player who had a rather big promotion and handled it rather well. Going from Rookie ball in Kingsport to Single-A Columbia, he had a worse year statistically in 2019 (.255/.300/.411 in 416 plate appearances) than he did in 2018 (.287/.389/.489), though he was roughly two years younger than the average player in the league. Vientos has his problems – namely his sometimes-long swing and his struggles with spin, but his ability to hold his own after making a big jump made me like him as a prospect a little more than I did previously, though I can’t say I’m not a bit nervous about his future.