We need to talk about Mike Tauchman. After going 3-for-4 last night, including hitting his ninth home run of the season (already five more than he’s hit in any other season), Tauchman is now rocking a .317 batting average alongside a .384 on-base percentage and .538 slugging percentage. After a rough 2016 season in Triple-A, Tauchman has bounced back to post numbers more similar to his excellent, but still under-the radar, seasons in Double- and High-A.
Tauchman can’t be found on any major prospect list. He ranked just 56th in the most recent PuRP voting. Perhaps his biggest advocate is noted prospect hipster Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs. Cistulli runs a weekly series called “The Fringe Five,” highlighting minor leaguers with excellent numbers, but who are conspicuously absent from top prospect lists. This season, Tauchman has been featured three times, and now ranks 4th on the full-season Fringe Five Scoreboard. From the most recent Fringe Five, Cistulli writes:
Entering play on Thursday, Tauchman had recorded 24 plate appearances since being included within last week’s edition of the Five. What he hadn’t recorded, however, was any strikeouts over that same time frame. Nor is this sort of command over the strike zone necessarily anomalous for Tauchman. Consider: Tauchman has recorded nearly even walk and strikeout rates (11.0% and 14.2%, respectively) in roughly 250 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Albuquerque. He’s also recorded a .210 isolated-power figure. By way of comparison, one finds that the Pacific Coast League averages by those three measures are 8.7%, 19.8%, and .157, in that order.
In FanGraphs’ pre-season prospect rankings, Cistulli offered these words on Tauchman:
Like he did at Double-A in 2015 and High-A the year before that, Tacuhman recorded promising walk and strikeout figures this year (7.6% and 14.6%, respectively) — in this case, with Triple-A Albuquerque. Also for the second consecutive year, he produced average-or-better defensive numbers in center according to Clay Davenport’s data.
On paper, Tauchman bears a considerable resemblance to a player already employed by the Rockies — namely, DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu had, of course, already played a couple seasons by Tauchman’s age. As for the basic profiles, though — high contact, little power, strong defense — they’re entirely comparable.
The Rockies are currently very, very full in the outfield, with at least seven players ahead of him on the depth chart. That said, a comp of “Outfielder DJ LeMahieu” is pretty intriguing. Now, Tauchman might end up being a PCL mirage, and it doesn’t seem that the Rockies are particularly high on him. However, it’s hard to ignore that he’s doing basically everything right that he can do: contact, on-base, power, and defense. Hopefully the Rockies are able to give him a shot, perhaps this September.
Ryan McMahon (No. 7 PuRP): 1-for-4, R, 2B
Mike Tauchman: 3-for-4, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI
Jordan Patterson (No. 13 PuRP): 3-for-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI
Brendan Rodgers (No. 1 PuRP): 1-for-5
Dom Nunez (No. 14 PuRP): 2-for-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI
Yency Almonte (No. 12 PuRP): 5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
Yonathan Daza: 6-for-6, 2 R, 2 2B, 3B, 2 RBI
Sam Hilliard: 3-for-6, RBI
Jesus Tinoco: 6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
Erick Julio: 7.2 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
Jose Gomez (No. 30 PuRP): 0-for-5, RBI
Willie Abreu: 1-for-4, 2B BB
Breiling Eusebio: 7 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 8 K
Danny Edgeworth: 2-for-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI
Cole Anderson: 1-for-4, R, BB
Shael Mendoza: 1-for-3, R, RBI, 3 BB
Hidekel Gonzalez: 1-for-5
Ramon Marcelino: 1-for-3, R, 2B, 2 RBI, BB
Daniel Montano (No. 21 PuRP): 0-for-5
Yeikel Blandin: 1-for-4, R, BB
Alejandro Mejia: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
Triple-A: Jon Gray (Rehab assignment)
Double-A: Konner Wade
High-A: Helmis Rodriguez
Low-A: Riley Pint (No. 3 PuRP)
SS-A: Ryan Luna
Rookie: Justin Valdespina