QUEENS — Mark Vientos had every right to feel “pretty confident,” as he described it, that he would get a call-up to the majors with the Mets sooner rather than later.
The 23-year-old infielder had been tearing the cover off of the ball for the organization’s Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse, slashing .333/.416/.688 with a 1.104 OPS, 13 home runs, and 37 RBI in 38 games and trying not to let the allure of getting another shot in the majors take up too much real estate in his head.
“I was just waiting on my turn, not really focusing on it too much,” Vientos said prior to his 2023 season debut on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays in which he batted eighth and played third base. “I was just trying to get better every single day when I was down there.”
His improvement has been sizable compared to a 2022 campaign in which he posted an .877 OPS with 24 home runs and 72 RBI in 101 games in Triple-A before getting a brief call-up to the Mets in September. He batted just .167 with a .546 OPS, one home run, and three RBI in 36 at-bats across 16 MLB games — and certainly is not expecting a repeat of such a performance in the pros.
“I feel like I’m in a better spot,” Vientos said. “I’m a lot better than I was last year. So I’m confident with that.”
While his bat is too good to pass up, the overarching question of where he’ll slot into the Mets’ defensive alignment provided an entirely different question. A natural third baseman, Vientos picked up time at first base and will be considered for designated hitting opportunities as well, per manager Buck Showalter.
“We’ll see how it evolves,” Showalter said. “He’s capable of playing first and third and DHing. If he plays well, hits well, we’ll see how that role evolves.”
An ability to translate his Triple-A power surge would be a saving grace for a Mets offense that has posted the eighth-fewest runs per game in the majors this season, especially when considering the DH spot remains a wide-open competition.
Daniel Vogelbach is providing a high OPS but isn’t providing the power needed to help lengthen the lineup behind Pete Alonso. It’s led Showalter to give Tommy Pham an extended look at the spot despite his struggles. Should they continue, Vientos seems like a no-brainer for the role to allow Brett Baty to resume every day starting duties at third base.
“I’m just going to come out here and do my thing,” Vientos said. “Come out there and play my game and see what happens.”
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