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Mark Vientos Called Up by Mets as Team Seeks Offense


The Mets have called up Mark Vientos, a power-hitting infielder who MLB.com ranks because the team’s sixth best prospect within the minors.

Vientos, 23, was hitting .333 with 13 home runs, 37 runs batted in and a 1.104 on-base plus slugging percentage in 38 games for Class AAA Syracuse this season — he was 2 for five with a house run in last night’s loss.

He has experience at first base, third base and outfield, but to get his bat within the lineup the only path can be as a delegated hitter, where he could join this season’s other rookies, catcher Francisco Álvarez and third baseman Brett Baty, as hopeful signs of the Mets’ future.

Expectations were sky high for the Mets after last 12 months’s 101-win season and an off-season spending spree through which Steven A. Cohen, the team’s billionaire owner, allowed for the payroll to surge to almost $350 million, which is able to balloon much more down the road because of Major League Baseball’s multi-tier luxury tax system.

To this point almost nothing has gone right. The team lost to the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-5, on Tuesday, dropping their record to 20-23 — six and a half games behind Atlanta within the National League East. Also they are a game and a half behind the Miami Marlins for the N.L.’s third wild-card spot.

While the Mets’ biggest problem has been pitching, with their starters combining for a 5.46 E.R.A., offense also has been a problem. The team is ranked nineteenth in O.P.S. — a measurement that reflects each the team’s ability to get on base (on-base percentage) and to hit for power (slugging percentage) — twenty first in runs and is tied for twentieth in home runs.

The team’s most respected batters this season have been first baseman Pete Alonso (13 home runs) and center fielder Brandon Nimmo (.830 O.P.S.) but even they’ve played somewhat below expectations. Vientos could theoretically provide a spark, particularly in comparison with the team’s most steadily used option amongst its reserves, outfielder Tommy Pham, who has hit .188 in 81 plate appearances.

Vientos was only 17 in 2017 when the Mets made him a second-round pick of American Heritage High School in Plantation, Fla. He had a 16-game call-up to the majors last season, and disenchanted by going 6 for 36 with one home run and 12 strikeouts. But he has absolutely crushed the ball within the high minors. In 150 games at Class AAA over parts of the last three seasons, he has hit .294 with 40 home runs and a .566 slugging percentage.

A below-average runner, he has not displayed a fantastic deal of promise defensively, which limits his overall value, and his best position will almost definitely be first base, which the Mets hope might be occupied by Alonso for years to return.

Vientos, no less than on a short-term basis, has the potential to carve out regular playing time at D.H. or within the outfield, which might mean the Mets are counting on three minimum-salary rookies despite having the very best payroll in M.L.B. history.

Neither Baty, who was called up in a similar way to Vientos last season only to sustain a season-ending injury, nor Álvarez has been particularly impressive with their bats, but each have held their very own defensively at difficult positions, which has helped keep them within the lineup. Vientos might want to justify his roster spot along with his bat.

Outside of Vientos, the highest prospect within the Mets system, by way of major league readiness, is Ronny Mauricio, a shortstop who’s hitting .354 with seven home runs for Syracuse.

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