Mark Vientos has skyrocketed up in the Mets organizational prospect list in the past 12 months, speeding up his potential path to the major leagues, and fans aren’t the only ones to notice.
Vientos, a 22-year-old third baseman with the Syracuse Mets, hit 25 home runs in 310 at-bats in 83 games between Double-A and Triple-A in 2021. The 6-4 righty hit a longball once every 12.4 at-bats in 2021, which was tied for ninth-best in the minors.
Word got out around baseball. Watch out when you give Vientos a pitch to hit.
The 59th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft struggled with this realization at first. He had a .157/.257/.311 slash line with one home run this April. This was 100 points lower than his batting average and 270 points lower than his slugging percentage in 2021.
Vientos realized he wasn’t getting as many pitches to hit and had to become more patient at the plate.
“My approach has always been the same, I guess it’s just more so me swinging at the right pitches and I’m not really getting many pitches to hit,” Vientos said. “I’ve been patient at the plate because I haven’t really been getting pitches I can barrel up, so I am walking a little bit more than I was last year, and that’s one of the things I wanted to do.”
He started seeing better results in May, smashing six home runs in 67 at-bats with a .328/.408/.642 slash line in 18 games in May. He also had six home runs in June.
“That’s what makes the game fun and interesting because it’s never going to be easy,” Vientos said. “It’s never going to be like ‘This whole season was cake.’ It’s always going to include work and working hard.”
Vientos has moved from the team’s No. 8 ranked prospect in 2021 to No. 5 in 2022 by MLB Pipeline. He is batting .247 through Thursday, which would be his lowest batting average for a season. But his on-base percentage (.350) and slugging (.495) are above his career averages as he adjusts to the new ways he’s being pitched.
He has 13 home runs, 35 RBIs and 36 runs in 54 games this year. Vientos has also walked 26 times, including 13 in June — his highest total for a month since advancing past rookie ball.
“I think I’m in a pretty good spot right now,” Vientos said. “I just need to keep going with my work. I think with the path I’m going right now, I’m headed in the right direction.”
The biggest adjustment from his struggles in April to a resurgence in May and June was his mental approach and capitalizing on the pitches he knows he can drive.
“We play six-game series and if I start off the series hot, I know by the fourth, fifth game I’m not going to get anything to hit,” Vientos said. “It’s just going to be walking or me getting one mistake a game.”
But Vientos has hopes of making the major-league roster soon — and staying there. He became a member of the 40-man roster in November and said learning how to deal with getting pitched around in the minors will help him during hot, offensive stretches in the majors.
“It’s going to help me out in the long run,” Vientos said. “I take it as this is making me better. I don’t take it as I’m frustrated. I’m just playing every day and getting better.”
And could he become a contributing factor to a Mets team looking to make a pennant run? Vientos certainly hopes so but understands it’s beyond his control.
“Obviously I know the team is doing well up there, but right now I’m just focused on the Syracuse Mets and me getting better every single day so when I get the opportunity, I’m ready and I take it and run away with it,” Vientos said. “If the opportunity comes, great but if not, I’m just focused on getting better and better every day.”