We’re going to write as many player profiles as we can this weekend in preparation for the 2017 MLB Draft coming up on Monday. Here’s another one: Mark Vientos, a high school infielder from American Heritage High School in Plantation, Florida.
Despite his extreme youth (more on that in a moment) Vientos has been on the radar for a long time, attending showcase events as far back as 2013. He’s been somewhat inconsistent as a field performer this spring but his long-term offensive potential and his birthday have kept clubs interested. He is committed to the University of Miami Hurricanes should he slip too far in the draft.
Vientos is listed at 6-4, 190, a right-handed hitter and thrower born December 11th, 1999. At age 17 and six months, he is the youngest player expected to go early on draft day.
At his best, Vientos demonstrates outstanding bat speed, 60-grade power, and the hitting feel to make that power work in games. His advocates see him as a player who will hit for both power and average. He also has a strong throwing arm and soft hands. He plays shortstop currently but some project a move to third base, where he could be a force along Manny Machado lines.
His youth is another attraction, as he has more potential development time available than most other players in the draft.
For all of his talent and reputation, reports on Vientos are actually a bit mixed: many glow with superlatives about his bat, while others worry that his production hasn’t always matched his potential. That could be nitpicking, especially given his youth, but it has to be mentioned.
He lacks running speed and won’t have the long-term range for shortstop. Optimists feel he’ll fit perfectly at third base, but not everyone agrees and some think he will fit better in right field.
As an example of the mixed evaluations from respected sources, Perfect Game ranks him 39th among draft prospects, Baseball America ranks Vientos 40th, but MLB.com ranks him 67th. All three of those sites draw from deep sources in the game. This may not seem like much of a difference, but it is the difference between being a borderline first round or supplemental round pick and being a late second or third rounder.
It seems likely that Vientos’ youth and bat will be too much for teams to pass up at the top of the draft and that he won’t get to college. The exact shape his abilities will take down the line is uncertain, but the ceiling is certainly high enough to be worth a gamble.