Mets Prospect Mark Vientos Talks Hitting

Mark Vientos profiles as a middle-of-the-order basher in a big-league lineup. Currently the No. 5 prospect in the New York Mets system, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound third baseman is coming off a season where he slashed .281/.352/.581 and hit 25 home runs in just 349 plate appearances between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Syracuse. One of the youngest players in his draft class when he was taken 59th overall in 2017 out of Plantation, Florida’s American Heritage High School, the right-handed hitting corner infielder put up those numbers at 21 years of age.

Vientos discussed his approach and early-career development prior to the end of the minor-league campaign.

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David Laurila: How would you describe yourself as a hitter?

Mark Vientos: “I like to consider myself an all-around type of hitter. A lot of people consider me just a power threat, but I feel like I can hit for average and power. As time goes on, and as I mature at the plate, I think my patience and discipline is going to be a lot better. I’m learning how they’re pitching me at these levels. Hopefully soon I’ll be at the major-league level and will be figuring out how they pitch me there.

“How teams pitch you differs, too. How the Red Sox [affiliate] pitches you might differ from how the Blue Jays pitch you. It’s about recognizing those things, but for the most part I’m looking for a fastball, because that’s the best pitch I could hit. I handle the fastball well.”

Laurila: Your writeup in this year’s Baseball America Prospect Handbook said that while you can square up most fastballs, you struggle with spin from right-handers. To what extent is that true?

Vientos: “It’s about swinging at the off-speed that’s in the zone. When I swing at off-speed in the zone, I can do damage; it’s when I chase that I struggle — I’ll hit a groundball to third or I’ll swing-and-miss. But honestly, I don’t see myself having trouble with spin. It’s just the pitch selection. If it’s in the zone, I’m going to crush it.”

Laurila: Recognizing spin is a big part of that…

Vientos: “Yeah, hitting a good breaking ball… there aren’t many people who can do that. You’ve got to get lucky to hit a good breaking ball that’s in a good location. The pitcher is trying to throw you off — that’s his whole plan — so it’s when they make a mistake, when they leave something in the zone, that you can do damage.”

Laurila: Your preseason writeup at FanGraphs said that you’ve made swing changes since coming to pro ball. Is that accurate?

Vientos: “Yeah, I’ve been working a lot on my swing over these couple of years. It’s kind of similar, yet kind of different. It’s all a process, honestly. Two years from now I’m probably not going have the same exact swing I have right now. It’s all about adjusting to the level.”

Laurila: What has your primary adjustment been to this point?

Vientos: “It’s more of the lower half. Before, my load had too much movement. I was going back and then coming forward, and now it’s more so loading into my hip and then coming forward. Basically, I used to have two movements, whereas now it’s just one. I’m quieter at the plate. In this day and age, when everyone is throwing 97 [mph] with a nasty slider, you’ve got to be quiet at the plate.”

Laurila: Where are your hands?

Vientos: “I place them on my shoulder now, and I used to have them off my shoulder. I don’t really see much of a difference with that, though. I’m just trying to be as quiet as possible at the plate. Keeping my head still is another part of that.”

Laurila: Have hitting analytics played much of a role in your development?

Vientos: “We have a lot of stuff we do in spring training with that side of the game, but I really don’t look at the numbers or anything. I’m a feel type of guy. Like, if I feel good and everything is working for me, I’m just going to keep doing that. If I’m in need of figuring out what’s going wrong with my swing, I’ll ask them, ‘What am I doing different?’ — maybe we’ll look at the K-Vest numbers and they’ll show me how my body was moving — but again, I’m all about feel. If I’m doing something different and feel good with it, I’m generally going to stick with that.”

Laurila: How hard is it to be patient when you’re scuffling, while at the same time feeling comfortable with how you feel at the plate?

Vientos: “That’s honestly the biggest thing I’ve learned about myself this year: I probably don’t need to change anything. You’re going to go through those rough stretches — everyone goes through those rough stretches — and you just have to get through them. It’s usually not mechanical. For me, it’s usually the mindset, the approach, what I’m thinking at the plate. Sometimes you’re thinking different thoughts, and that can change the results at the plate.”

Laurila: With mechanics in mind, how conducive is your swing to hitting the elevated fastball?

Vientos: “I feel completely fine with elevated fastballs. That’s honestly one of my favorite pitches to get, because I know that all I have to do is put the barrel to the ball and it’s going to go a long way. My thought process is to drive the ball hard in the air, and I know that if I make solid contact and get it in the air, it has a good chance of being a home run.”

Laurila: Looking at video of your home runs, it struck me that many have been to center and to the opposite field…

Vientos: “Yeah, that comes with my approach. I know my game, and my power is center, right center, right field, left center. Personally, I don’t try to pull the ball; I try to hit everything up the middle. That keeps my swing… it keeps my hands inside, instead of yanking the ball. It also helps me recognize spin a lot more, because I’m letting the ball travel deeper.”

Laurila: Do you know the distance of your longest home run?

Vientos: “I’ve heard 480 [feet], but that was in 2019 and wasn’t recorded. On TrackMan, I hit one 460 earlier this year. It was to left center.”

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Earlier “Talks Hitting” interviews can found through these links: Jeff Albert, Greg Allen, Nolan Arenado, Aaron Bates, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, JJ Bleday, Bobby Bradley, Jay Bruce, Matt Chapman, Michael Chavis, Jacob Cruz, Nelson Cruz, Paul DeJong, Josh Donaldson, Rick Eckstein, Drew Ferguson, Justin Foscue, Joey Gallo, Devlin Granberg, Andy Haines, Mitch Haniger, Tim Hyers, Jimmy Kerr, Trevor Larnach, Evan Longoria, Michael Lorenzen, Gavin Lux, Dave Magadan, Trey Mancini, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Ryan Mountcastle, Cedric Mullins, Daniel Murphy, Brent Rooker,, Drew Saylor, Fernando Tatis Jr., Justin Turner, Mark Trumbo, Zac Veen, Luke Voit, Jordan Westburg, Jesse Winker, Nick Yorke.





David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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Connor Grey
10 months ago

“I like to consider myself an all-around type of hitter. A lot of people consider me just a power threat, but I feel like I can hit for average and power.“

I went to about 5-7 of Vientos’ games between Binghamton and Syracuse this year and to about 20 minor league games overall. He’s one of the most impressive minor league hitters I saw.

I had never seen him play in person prior to ‘21. Based on what I had read, I was expecting him to be an all or nothing home run hitter. But for a guy who makes hitting majestic, 400+ foot home runs look easy, I was pleasantly surprised by Vientos appearing to really cut down on his swing with two strikes.

One AB in particular stood out where he just flicked a line drive single into CF off an in-zone, 2-strike breaking ball on the outside part of the plate. I’m not a scout but I’m pretty confident now that Vientos will have averages well north of .250 to go along with the power numbers once he establishes himself in the Majors.