Name: Mark Vientos
Weight: 205 lbs.
Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft, 2nd Round (American Heritage High School)
Mark Vientos was an established name on the exhibition and showcase circuit for years prior to the Mets drafting and signing him, 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. While the overslot bonus certainly helped, Vientos grew up a Mets fan thanks to his father’s team allegiance, and the connection certainly must have had an impact on deciding to sign with the organization.
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 league, Vientos not only held his own but excelled, hitting .287/.389/.489 in 60 games for Kingsport, walking 37 times, striking out 43 times, and slugging 11 home runs.
The Mets were aggressive with the third baseman in 2019, promoting him to the Columbia Fireflies, and 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. Most noteworthy about his season was how starkly different the results were in the first and second halves; in the first half of the season, Vientos hit .240/.286/.364 with 5 home runs and a 12:58 walk:strikeout and in the second half hit .270/.315/.464 with 7 home runs and a 10:51 walk:strikeout ratio. The 2020 season was going to be exciting for Vientos in that we would see which Vientos was the real deal, but unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he did not get to play- though he was invited to the Coney Island alternate site and the fall instructional league later in the year, where he impressed many in the organization. Minor league baseball returned in 2021 and Vientos was assigned to the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, the second-youngest players in the league for much of the season. His 2021 season mirrored his 2019 season a great deal, in that he struggled early on but hit his stride later in the season, eventually earning a promotion to Syracuse at the end of the season. On the whole, he hit .281/.352/.581 in 83 games total, 72 in Binghamton and 11 in Syracuse, with a combined 25 home runs and a 33:100 walk:strikeout ratio. Of note, he missed time in August and September due to MiLB health and safety protocols related to COVID-19.
Vientos stands upright and has wide stance at the plate, holding his hands high and wrapping his bat behind his head. He has a minimal load and swings with a toe tap and/or small leg kick. When he makes solid contact, the ball explodes off his bat, a combination of his bat speed, the natural loft from his swing, and torque from utilizing his lower half effectively. His swing gets long and shows susceptibility to premium stuff thrown inside, though he has great pull power and can really punish inside pitches when he is able to get ahold of them. He shows power back up the middle and to the opposite field as well- and his general strategy is to hit pitches back up the middle or to the opposite field- putting a jolt into the ball and regularly posting 100 MPH+ exit velocities on hits to all fields.
His 72.9% contact rate in 2021 was a little lower than the MLB average (around 80%) reflecting Vientos’ continuing struggle with breaking balls. He showed a vulnerability to breaking balls, pitches thrown down-and-away, and pitches from left-handers; he showed an extreme vulnerability to breaking balls thrown down-and-away by left-handers. His 29.3% strikeout percentage reflects this vulnerability, but these numbers also do not differentiate strikeouts looking and strikeouts swinging; in 2021, being passive and intentionally taking pitches early was a big part of Vientos’ game plan at the plate. Throughout the season, he regularly took pitches in his first at-bat of a game in order to see a pitcher’s mechanics and how their pitches move, allowing him to better see them later in the game. Spending the majority of the season as Binghamton’s clean-up hitter, hitting out of the four spot, Vientos hit .150/.190/.200 in 20 at-bats in the second inning, as opposed to .265/.286/.500 in 34 at-bats in the third inning, .300/.400/.467 in 30 at-bats in the fourth inning, .111/.172/.370 in 27 at-bats in the fifth inning, .441/.459/1.000 in 34 at-bats in the sixth inning, .333/.406/.444 in 27 at-bats in the seventh inning, .214/.333/.536 in 28 at-bats in the eighth inning, and .273/360/.591 in 22 at-bats in the ninth, with his strikeout rates generally 50% lower in the later innings as compared to the earlier innings.
Though initially drafted as a shortstop, Vientos hasn’t played the position since 2017 and is not expected to move back, instead primarily playing third base while dabbling in first and the outfield. He is not unathletic, but he lacks explosive quick twitch muscle, resulting in a slow first step and below-average lateral quickness. His average-to-above-average arm and good instincts allow him to handle the routine plays fine at third fine, but if fills in and slows down further in the years to come, he will be forced off of the position, as he will exhibit even less of a first step and range. He played limited innings in the outfield, and while there is not enough data to make any conclusive remarks about his ability there, based on his lack of an explosive first step and below-average speed, he is unlikely to be a positively contributing defender.