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Getting to know Mets infielder Mark Vientos

Vientos will be called up today with Starling Marte being placed on the Injured List.

2022 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game
Mark Vientos
Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Long before he was mashing home runs and making a name for himself as a professional, Mark Vientos was doing the same as a teenager, establishing his name on the exhibition and showcase circuit and earning praise from scouts and evaluators as early as 2013, when he was just 14 years old. For three years, he played ball at Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines, Florida, but in 2016, he switched schools and began attending American Heritage High School in Plantation, a few miles south. Vientos only appeared in 26 games for the American Heritage High School Patriots, missing some time in the spring due to a quad injury, but he made his time on the field count, hitting .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 lost time from the quad injury coupled with his commitment to the University of Miami caused multiple teams to pass over him in the 2017 MLB Draft. The Mets were among the handful of teams that had scouted the teen, and with their second round pick, the 59th overall pick, they selected Vientos. The negotiations moved fairly quickly, and the two sides agreed to a $1.5 million signing bonus, slightly above the MLB-assigned slot value of $1,094,700. Very few young boys who grow up playing baseball get the opportunity to play baseball professionally, and even fewer still get to do so for the team they grew up rooting for. The son of a Dominican immigrant who left the island nation for New York City, Mark Vientos had his Mets fandom passed down from father-to-son.

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, earning a token promotion to the Kingsport Mets and the end of the season. That winter, Amazin’ Avenue ranked Vientos the Mets’ fifth-best prospect. He spent the entire 2018 season with Kingsport, and once again as 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, slugging 11 home runs, stealing 1 base in as many attempts, and walking 37 times to 43 strikeouts. That winter, I ranked Vientos the third-best player I saw that season, and Amazin’ Avenue ranked him the Mets’ third-best prospect.

The Mets were aggressive with the third baseman in 2019, skipping him over the Short-A Brooklyn Cyclones and promoting him to the Low-A Columbia Fireflies, where he was the second youngest player in the South Atlantic League. While his season was a bit of a disappointment in terms of the expectations placed on him, Vientos did have a respectable year. All in all, he hit .255/.300/.411 in 111 games with 12 home runs, 1 stolen base in 5 attempts, and drawing 22 walks to 110 strikeouts. Most noteworthy about his season was how vast the difference was between the results from his first half and from his second half; in the first half of the season, Vientos hit .240/.286/.364 with 5 home runs and a 12:58 walk:strikeout ratio and in the second half hit .270/.315/.464 with 7 home runs and a 10:51 walk:strikeout ratio. Despite seeing him during literally his worst stretch of the season, I ranked Vientos the third-best player I saw that season, and Amazin’ Avenue ranked him the Mets’ fifth-best prospect.

As was the case with everyone else, Vientos missed the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but he did get to play a bit unlike many others, getting invited to the Coney Island alternate site and impressing many in the organization. When minor league baseball returned in 2021 and Vientos was once again given a tough assignment, jumping from Low-A baseball to Double-A, getting assigned to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. His 2021 season mirrored his 2019 season a great deal, in that he was the second-youngest player to play in the Eastern League, and that he once again 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 33 walks to 100 strikeouts. Of note, he missed time in August and September due to MiLB health and safety protocols related to COVID-19. Over the winter, Amazin’ Avenue ranked the 21-year-old the Mets fourth-best prospect.

The Mets assigned Vientos to the Triple-A Syracuse Mets to begin the season, and for a third year in a row, he started his year off cold but got hotter and hotter as the season went on. In 19 games in April, he hit .164/.257/.312 with 1 home run, 7 walks, and 21 strikeouts. In 18 games in May, he hit .328/.408/.642 with 6 home runs, 8 walks, and 25 strikeouts. In 17 games in June, he hit .242/.375/.515 with 6 home runs, 13 walks, and 24 strikeouts. In 21 games in July, he hit .317/.353/.595 with 6 home runs, 5 walks, and 21 strikeouts. In 19 games in August, he hit .338/.400/.558 with 4 home runs, 8 walks, and 18 strikeouts. Through 7 games in September prior to his call-up, Vientos hit .250/.323/.357 with 1 home run, 3 walks, and 9 home runs.

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, perhaps a biproduct of his apparent guess strategy. Throughout his career, Vientos has shown vulnerability to breaking balls and pitches thrown down-and-away, but when he accurate predicts these pitches, he is able to really put a jolt on the ball and post 100 MPH+ exit velocities to all fields, particularly to the opposite field.

Though initially drafted as a shortstop, Vientos does not have the ability to play up the middle. He was moved to third base in 2018, and at the present is stretched even there. While not unathletic, Vientos is a low-energy guy that lacks explosive quick twitch muscle, resulting in a slow first step and below-average lateral quickness. His average-to-above-average arm and solid instincts allowed him to handle the routine plays fine at third fine initially, but the pace of the game increased as he worked his way up the minor league ladder, and Vientos is a well-below-average defender at third base as a professional at the highest level. He played limited innings in the outfield in 2021 as the Mets explored the best way to give both him and Brett Baty playing time, but the experiment ended and was not resumed in 2022; while there is enough data to make any conclusive, definitive remarks about his ability there, based on how he looked visually along with the fact that he has not played in the outfield at all in 2022, it is safe to conclude that the experiment will not be resumed again. Instead, the Mets actually have shifted Vientos down the defensive spectrum, giving him more play at first base and DH this season than ever before.