NEW YORK -- The Mets may not know who their starting third baseman will be next season, but they have an idea of who it might be for the bulk of the next decade.
Mark Vientos, the organization’s second-round pick in the 2017 Draft, just wrapped up a year in which he hit .255/.300/.411 with 12 home runs and 27 doubles in 111 games for Class A Columbia. If those numbers don’t pop off the page, consider this: Vientos, the youngest player taken on Day 1 of the 2017 Draft, played the entire season at 19 years old.
For his efforts, Vientos was named the Mets' Hitting Prospect of the Year by MLB Pipeline. David Peterson, the Mets’ first-rounder from the same Draft class, is their Pitcher of the Year.
“It’s all about being comfortable,” Vientos said earlier this year. “It’s all about getting used to good pitching, trusting my ability to adjust and knowing I’m a good hitter. I knew it’d be a matter of time before I showed that to everyone else. Now, it’s all about carrying that forward.”
Each team’s Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appear on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.
Vientos clocks in No. 6 on that list, putting him in the shadow of the only player at Columbia younger than him: 18-year-old Ronny Mauricio, the Mets’ top-ranked prospect. Vientos’ ceiling may be just as high. A bat-first prospect who has hit 27 professional home runs as a teenager, Vientos figures to graduate next spring to Class A Advanced St. Lucie, where he will again be one of the youngest players in his league. In the Mets’ perfect world, Vientos will become an early-20s superstar for the Mets -- their answer to Ronald Acuna Jr. in Atlanta, or Juan Soto in Washington.
Certainly, the Mets could use that sort of stability at third base, a position no one has held down consistently in Flushing since David Wright began suffering injuries late in his career. The team figures to shift either J.D. Davis or Jeff McNeil there next season, but in two or three years? Vientos could be the answer.
If he is, he stands a strong chance of playing behind Peterson, a 24-year-old who struck out 122 batters in 116 innings with a 4.19 ERA at Double-A Binghamton. Although Peterson does not boast elite velocity, the Mets’ seventh-ranked prospect features a standout sinker that is the backbone of his repertoire. In his first two full professional seasons combined, Peterson allowed just 11 home runs.
“I’m not where I want to finish yet,” Peterson said earlier this year. “You don’t grow up dreaming to be a Minor Leaguer. Whatever I can do to learn and grow as a pitcher and as a player to get to the big leagues and eventually just stay there, that’s something I have to look forward to. I’m continuously learning what’s going to get me there and what’s going to keep me there.”